Lentil As Anything — the pay-as-you-feel social enterprise restaurant group — apparently owed its staff at least $369,000 at the time it closed its doors, a report from administrators has revealed.

The Age reported that the restaurants may have also operated while insolvent and unable to pay debts for three years before imploding in February this year.

Insolvent trading is considered a serious offence to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). If a company is found to be trading while unable to pay debts, it can result in the company’s director facing fines of up to $200,000, personal bankruptcy and disqualification or up to five years in jail.

Lentil As Anything founder Shanaka Fernando blamed the COVID-19 pandemic as a leading factor for the closure of the restaurants, which were active in Sydney and Melbourne since 2000.

“The backpackers and uni students were about 70 per cent of our clientele, and they made up a similar number of the 5000 volunteers we needed annually as well to supplement our paid workforce,” he said in a statement.

“But with the closing of the borders our numbers dwindled considerably.”

The creditors’ report included a breakdown from the forensic accountants’ investigation findings of money that Lentils owed various people and companies. It claimed that staff were owed at least $110,000 in entitlements and nearly $260k in superannuation — but the chain’s “volunteer” staffing has made it confusing to figure out who is actually eligible.

Creditors were owed nearly $600k when the restaurant company collapsed. One of its major creditors and popular Melbourne eatery — the Abbotsford Convent — was owed $85,000.

Sorry but there really is no amount of spiced chai, good vibes or free yoga that’s going to fix this deeply cooked karmic energy.

Image: Instagram / @lentil.as.anything