Photography: Dillon Vibes
The Gods Cafe and Bar will stage a protest on Wednesday against their ‘forced closure’, after negotiations with the ANU to determine the popular cafe’s future in the Union Court redevelopment faltered last month.
While the future of the cafe remains in the hands of lawyers, a petition to save the business collected more than 200 signatures last week as management and staff seek to bolster support for the cafe’s future.
Harry Cohen, who has worked at the cafe for four months and is helping lead the protest movement, said that the protest and the petition will show ANUSA, PARSA and the University’s administration how many people support the cafe.
ANUSA declined to comment to the cafe’s management about the protest or the petition because the ANUSA president, James Connolly, sits on the vendor selection committee for the pop-up village.
But Cohen said that it would be ‘neglectful’ for student associations to ignore the visible support the student body has shown for the business, which has a three decade history on campus.
‘They can’t ignore this, these are real students, who come here, who show that they care about this situation, they care about us and they want us to stay.
‘If student associations ignore this it would be neglectful. I don’t think they would be serving the students or the campus, doing what they’re meant to do,’ Cohen said.
Woroni revealed on 17 April that the ANU had issued the business with a notice terminating the license under a clause allowing for the contract to be broken if the premises were needed for a ‘higher university use’.
Jaye Min, managing director of the cafe, bought the business in November 2013 for $470,000 having been reassured by the University that there was a license option which would extend until 2023.
In December 2015, $125,000 worth of renovations were approved by the ANU.
With the closure of the business imminent, Min stands to be out of pocket with no suggestion of compensation from the ANU for terminating the license early.
Cohen rejected the ANU’s portrayal of The Gods as ‘stubborn, not wanting to negotiate or accept the pop-up deal.’
Cohen said that some of the larger vendors on campus could probably survive in the pop-up and redeveloped Union Court, but that the small business model of the Gods would not.
‘We could move to the pop-up, but would have to close within a month or so anyway,’ he said.
The protest will take place from 12pm in Union Court on Wednesday, 3 May.