When Olympic gold medallist Kim Brennan returned home from Rio last year, one of the first things she did was book a table to celebrate her success at one of her favourite restaurants, Curtin’s Hungry Buddha.
The celebration meal led to a series of conversations with owner Lachhu Thapa and culminated in her appointment as Ambassador to the REACH for Nepal Foundation, the organisation Lachhu co-founded with friend Lou Nulley in 2015 to provide assistance to the people of his former homeland after that year’s devastating earthquakes.
For Lachhu, this anecdote demonstrates the importance of the local community Hungry Buddha has become a part of. Something not at the front of his mind when he and another good mate, Ben Richardson, recruited their friends and family to help them build the quaint little subterranean restaurant that became not just a place to eat, but a place that diverts much of its energy into supporting REACH for Nepal.
Today, after months of uncertainty and the eventual rejection of the ill-fated redevelopment proposal of the building Hungry Buddha has called home, he has confirmed they will cease trading this week after recently being issued with a notice to vacate by the owners of the building.
No doubt this news will be met with sadness by lovers of Nepalese food and the local community. For the Hungry Buddha owner though, it also means that the REACH for Nepal Foundation will lose a valuable revenue source.
He says that despite his disappointment, he has enjoyed a good relationship with his landlords over the years and holds no ill will toward them. He just wishes they had been more in tune with community expectations before submitting a proposal so at odds with the Curtin Group Centre Master Plan that it received a record number of objections before it was eventually canned.
Lachhu says he was prepared to wait out the construction of any new building in order to reopen in Curtin, but as it stands this is no longer an option. The building will be empty by year’s end; a curious outcome considering there has been no announcement regarding the future of the site.
Like other tenants and the broader Curtin community, he is concerned that the empty building will lie derelict and adversely affect the ambience of the shops, currently a thriving hub of activity.
The good news though is that Hungry Buddha is in the process of securing a new tenancy on the south-side and has solid plans to reopen in the near future. Lachhu isn’t giving away too much for the moment, but he is confident Hungry Buddha will return sooner rather than later.
‘Curtin has a great sense of community, and we will really miss it,’ he says, clearly sad to be leaving. ‘We hope they can still visit us in our new location. We guarantee it won’t be too far from all of our friends.’
Of course, Hungry Buddha will continue to trade from its Belconnen location for those who must get their Nepalese food fix in the meantime.
Hungry Buddha Belconnen
8/8 Luxton St
Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, ACT 2617