Icon of Sydney’s vegan dining scene announces closure
After 34 years in business, Australia’s longest running vegan institution, Bodhi Restaurant, has announced that it will be closing its doors at Cook + Philip Park.
Having paved the way for the plant-based movement in Australia, Bodhi Restaurant Bar will be serving up its final dish on 7 August 2022. The beloved institution has been a fixture on the Sydney scene since 1988, and a long-time favourite among vegans and non-vegan diners alike.
A bittersweet moment
Owner and vegan pioneer Heaven Leigh says the decision to close feels bittersweet, but she is proud of everything the acclaimed family enterprise has achieved, and wanted to close on a high while the restaurant is thriving.
“My family opened the first Bodhi Vegetarian Restaurant at a time when no-one really knew much about vegetarianism or veganism,” she says. “No one thought – including ourselves – that we would make it past three years in this industry, let alone survive and thrive three generations and 34 years later.”
Although lockdowns and extreme staff shortages throughout the pandemic have played a part in Heaven’s decision, the catalyst is wanting to spend more quality time with her young family and prioritise her wellbeing.
However, Heaven assures long-time fans that this isn’t the end of the story, just the end of a chapter, and she’s excited to focus on bringing vegan food to a wider audience.
“It’s with both excitement for the future and a heavy heart that I announce that Bodhi will be closing its doors at its Cook & Philip location,” Heaven shared in a statement. “I am incredibly passionate about the plant-based space and the community we have built. This is not the end. Thank you to everyone who has visited us, supported us and made our Bodhi dream a reality for more than three decades.”
34 years: a retrospective
Over the past 34 years Bodhi has managed seven venues, inspired hundreds of thousands of people to eat and live consciously, executed over 50 brand collaborations, and served millions of delicious vegan meals that have attracted the celebrities and athletes including the likes of Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Toby McGuire, Novak Djokovic, and Sydney’s own internationally acclaimed DJ and vegan advocate, DJ Tigerlily.
Passionate about supporting women in business, Bodhi has established thousands of successful careers of talented female chefs, managers and waitstaff, having promoted the first female head chef in the yum cha industry.
In testament to its popularity among Australia’s vegan and plant-forward community, Bodhi Restaurant Bar has been honoured two years running in the Nourish Vegan Awards in the Vegan Dining category, taking out the winner’s trophy in the inaugural 2020 awards, and coming in a finalist in 2021.
Heaven herself has also won numerous well-deserved accolades, including a place on PETA’s lineup of leading female vegan pioneers celebrated on International Women’s Day 2022.
There is no doubt the famed restaurant and bar in its stunning central location will be greatly missed by plant-based food lovers in Sydney and beyond. Fans including DJ Tigerlily have been commenting on the restaurant’s farewell post on Instagram, expressing sadness at the closure, along with gratitude, well wishes, and excited anticipation for what is to come.
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If you’re in or around Sydney, you can enjoy Bodhi’s famous vegan yum cha one last time between now and 7 August by booking a table at bodhirestaurant.com.au. The restaurant is also encouraging everyone to sign up to their newsletter and follow their social media channels @bodhirestaurantbar to be the first to hear about what’s to come.
Images: Bodhi Restaurant Bar