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Keeping faith in Southbank

06 May 2020

Keeping faith in Southbank Image

By Tamara Clark

Although Southbank’s Arts Precinct is looking like a ghost town, one corner of the community has remained open with a touching message.

Pourya Sadr, owner of Café Godot at the Guild on Sturt St has always had a connection with art.

Be it photography, film or as of right now, drawing, he always has his hands in something creative.

Sadr opened his café with the challenging art student budget in mind.

“I remember my art student friends struggling in art school and struggling afterwards,” he said.

“And then I started working in the hospitality industry and I had that soft spot because I would see my art student friends have to work for free here and there and they would rarely have any income. So, I reached for that market so they could get a sandwich, lunch and a coffee for $15.”

Like so many others during this pandemic, the café has faced some adversity.

Customers are fewer, and freshly-made perishable dishes became less viable.

So, the menu has changed significantly.

“When it was a normal day, we were very busy and running out of food every day,” Sadr said.

However, Godot seized the opportunity to add staple grocery items like milk, meat and coffee to the menu to support the community.

“Anything that will make it easier for our customers,” he said.

“You can come and pick up fresh, fresh bread and we keep our prices a little bit lower than the supplier.”

Pourya said he had received a hand-written letter from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) detailing how the university was setting up a break-off room to replicate his café.

“They pretend they’re really here. Students stand around and joke they are waiting for their soy milk latte,” he said. “It is just beautiful to hear.”

Café Godot has plans to start delivering to the university.

Pourya outlined some roses in an otherwise thorny situation.

Ironically, the café was named after a word which references small talk; the niceties of generic coffee shop conversation; “Hi. How are you? How’s the weather?”

But over the three years of Godot living at the base of the Guild building, conversations have become longer and more “emotionally open”.

“What we’re going through at the moment is something similar to those silent meditation retreats you hear of,” he said. “The silence makes you think of all the conversations you could be having but aren’t.”

“At the moment, we are locked down and thinking of all the opportunities we are given to connect and to know our neighbours. We are all thinking about how we want to connect when this is all over,” he said.

Café Godot is located at 152 Sturt Street, Southbank •

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