Sydney / Eat & Drink / Ethical Eats: Sydney's Social Enterprise Restaurants and Cafés

Ethical Eats: Sydney's Social Enterprise Restaurants and Cafés

Every Friday on Instagram Stories, we answer all your pressing questions about the best things to eat, drink and do around Sydney. And so, to help answer your queries Sitchu-style, we've launched a new Ask Us series, so you can swot up on all our favourite go-to spots to eat, drink, shop and explore. 

This week’s question comes from Liv, who after visiting non-profit restaurant Lentil As Anything, wanted to know if there were any other places in Sydney doing similar things. The answer is yes – there are a handful of eateries around town that give their profits for a purpose, a growing movement in Australia and around the world. 

These businesses all combine food and philanthropy in a way that makes giving back as easy and accessible as going out for a meal with friends. Genius, right? 

Of course, social enterprises aren’t a new phenomenon – defined as organisations that use commercial strategies to serve community issues. Though, as of late there’s been a growing interest in the profit-for-purpose movement and Aussies have welcomed this with open arms, open minds and hungry stomachs! 

Most of these eateries serve up food as wholesome as their ethos, with health, wellness and locality at the core of their menus. From a choose-your-own-charity coffee shop in North Sydney to a refugee-run café-bookshop in Newtown, we’ve scoured the streets to uncover some of the best restaurants and cafés that make a valuable impact.

Lentil As Anything

For all-you-can-eat food, make your way to Lentil As Anything, and leave knowing that all the profits go towards feeding and connecting the community. This pay-what-you-feel vegan restaurant encourages patrons to pay what they can afford and all donations go straight back into the restaurant for hospitality training the volunteers. Lentil is also committed to food sustainability and many of their ingredients are donated by local businesses or from food-rescue operations. This means that the day’s menu is much determined by whatever produce they receive in the morning, so you could be having Malaysian eggplant curry one day and a vegan lasagne the next!

391 King Street, Newtown 

Two Wolves

This may seem like your regular buzzy Mexican cantina but behind the brightly coloured walls and festively hung flags is a dedicated social enterprise business. The Two Wolves aims to generate funds for youth in disadvantaged communities both in Australia and overseas. Order from the likes of Jalapeno Poppers and Agave and Chilli Glazed Wings and know that you’ll be making a difference somewhere it counts. 

202 Broadway, Sydney NSW 

The Freedom Hub

For a feel-good meal, it’s hard to go past The Freedom Hub. Tucked in a cool warehouse space in Waterloo, the charity-slash-café serves specialty coffee, naturopath-blended teas, and gourmet eats using ingredients from local Aussie growers. The Freedom Hub exists to raise awareness for the human trafficking trade within Australia, so 100% of the cafes’ profits go towards this cause. They also have set up a Survival School that assists survivors with long-term support and recovery.

283 Young Street, Waterloo 

Symbol

Located in the bustling lobby of a North Sydney office building is the unassuming coffee shop, Symbol. Like Gratia and Folonomo, customers can choose their impact with every purchase – you can either donate to feed disadvantaged school children, help plant trees to offset your carbon footprint or donate to Ozharvest, the food rescue service. Whatever you choose, know that 100% of your morning Single O or your Salted Caramel smoothie bowl is contributing to something meaningful. 

Ground Floor, 65 Berry Street, North Sydney

Four Brave Women

Four Brave Women has been breaking ground since it opened earlier this year. This Summer Hill eatery works to empower refugees by giving them training and experience in a commercial kitchen so that after their 8 week cycle they’ve gained enough knowledge to branch out and start a business of their own. Therefore, the menu changes every 8 weeks as a new group of refugees takes over the kitchen, cooking up feasts from their cultural background. At the moment, they’re serving up Iraqi cuisine, buffet style. 

 26 Lackey St, Summer Hill

Gratia and Folonomo

Latin for gratitude, Gratia’s name carries essence in the cafe’s culture and all proceeds beyond operating costs go to a charity of your choice (from a regularly rotating list). Expect brunch classics and colourful lattes, all the regular cafe favourites - but just that little bit more delicious because we know that it's giving back to great causes.  Owned by the same good people, Restaurant Folonomo adjoins the cafe through a beautiful (and insta-worthy) internal courtyard. Here you will find a refined menu that features modern, eclectic pairings and weekly events, classes, speakers and art exhibitions.

370 Bourke St, Surry Hills

Parliament on King

Hungry for change? Parliament on King in Newtown trains asylum seekers and refugees in the basics of hospitality, with the aim of getting them work ready. Owners Ravi and Della Prasad turned the front living room of their Newtown terrace into this cafe-slash-bookshop with the aim of creating a home away from home for Australian refugees. It feels like exactly that, someone’s home when you step into the cosy and welcoming space (it only seats 15 people!). 

632 King St, Erskineville 

Sydney

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