The Red Herring kaput

johnboy 9 June 2011 42

the red herring

Facebook has the sad news that the Red Herring Cafe has ended its brave experiment with running a different sort of coffee shop in Civic.

Dear Loyal Patrons of the Herring,

I’m afraid I have bad news. Probably the worst news I’ve ever had to break to anyone. Sure, no one’s died, nothings burnt down or been stolen. But unfortunately, it’s still over. That’s right. We’re closed for business.

On Friday they shut of the power and it all comes to an end. No more Thursday-midnight-games, no more Fiery Rainbows, no more staff-patron twister, Nuttela-Chinos, sexy coffee girls on rollerblades and cheap-ass nachos.

This wasn’t how we wanted it to end, but sometimes these things are beyond our control and I guess that’s life my coffee addicted friends. We tried, we tried so hard to make this work. And in a way it did, I think we left a mark, and memories that the people of Canberra will talk about for years to come, because we had here was something special. A truly safe space where people could be themselves, safe from the prejudicial realities of everyday life.

So keep us in your hearts at this difficult time. Today will be our last full day of trading, and tomorrow we’ll party. From 7pm onwards, (power or no power) we will be having a candle light vigil come glow stick rave, to say goodbye. The Red Herring, all ages, End of the World Party. Because life goes on.


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42 Responses to The Red Herring kaput
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I-filed I-filed 6:32 pm 14 Jun 11

Footnote: while in there ordering egg breakfast I asked whether the eggs were free-range and the person behind the counter touched her nose when she said “yes” – which made me think she might be lying!

hank2604 hank2604 5:08 pm 14 Jun 11

I cannot help but suppose that the owners and patrons of the Red Herring cafe were in fact the worst of the boring, uncultured and prejudiced Canberrans. It would seem as though the youth and creepy older men of Canberra so desperately wanted to be outcasts that they established a failed, half-arsed hangout in which to bitch about the mainstream over unread copies of The Communist Manifesto.

I-filed I-filed 7:38 pm 13 Jun 11

Furry Jesus said :

GLB doesn’t have to mean that a business can’t survive. Look at Tilley’s.

.

You clearly don’t know Tilleys’ history – thanks to slack bureaucrats who didn’t know how to set up a funding program, private owner swung a year’s massive wage subsidy amounting to some $250,000 in 1984 dollars (e.g. well over a million in today’s money). Said bureaucrats were admonished after the fact. That’s not to diminish Tilleys achievement over the years, but you can’t compare sad little Red Herring and the Tilleys behemoth!

I-filed I-filed 7:34 pm 13 Jun 11

Fundamental flaw: chipped op shop cups and saucers. They really didn’t get that the “Melbourne vibe” does not preclude decent cafe china. Gauche and pretentious vibe – my friend and I sat at a “communal table” and were looked at askance because we smiled and said hullo.

creative_canberran creative_canberran 4:33 pm 13 Jun 11

The Traineediplomat said :

They should open another viable business there… how about a hologram shop or one that sells solely baseball cards…or a Virtual Reality Cafe….man the 90s were great…

What about one of those oxygen cafes that opened around the yr 2000… the ones where you pay upfront to sit at a bar and inhale oxygen from a straw. Nice profit margin on that!

el el 11:43 pm 12 Jun 11

The Traineediplomat said :

They should open another viable business there… how about a hologram shop or one that sells solely baseball cards…or a Virtual Reality Cafe….man the 90s were great…

To the LEFTORIUM!

The Traineediplomat The Traineediplomat 6:39 pm 12 Jun 11

They should open another viable business there… how about a hologram shop or one that sells solely baseball cards…or a Virtual Reality Cafe….man the 90s were great…

creative_canberran creative_canberran 6:09 pm 12 Jun 11

This was the write up about the cafe when it oppened:
“You start the day at an un-named cafe. The seats are stock-standard metal contraptions that dig into your body. The person behind you reaches up and hits you in the head. Awkward apologies are exchanged and you go back to reading the menu. The waitress arrives, grunts recognition at your order and wanders away. Fifteen minutes later she returns and silently places the coffee on your table. It is average, at best.

Perplexed, you exclaim, ‘The un-named cafe is dead! No longer shall we suffer from bad service, cramped quarters and awful coffee!’ The next morning you walk through the city, hoping that you can make good on your promise to never return to the un-named cafe.

You happen upon a red herring — or rather, The Red Herring — a café that deliberately aims to challenge Canberra cafe culture. Situated in the heart of Civic, The Red Herring does things differently: You are greeted by a bow-tied lesbian, who not only takes your order, but does so with a smile. The furniture consists of a collection of cobbled together couches and armchairs arranged in a series of ‘rooms’ — a study, lounge room, bedroom and even a kid’s play area.”

Source: http://www.fusemagazine.com.au/index.php/whats-on/canberra/1490-the-red-herring-cafe

And this was the reality:
“People weren’t too bad.
Place was disgusting last time I went there, the bed was damp underneath. Don’t you know you are supposed to air them out?
There was scum up the walls, the coffee was burnt and tasted like the machine cleaner.
I saw rodent droppings on the floor behind one of the many filthy couches.
Why on earth is the coffee machine on a chipboard bench? Why were the group heads left in all the time? Why were there food scraps everywhere?
It was like I walked into a squat house.
I would never eat there even if the food tasted like ambrosia because I do not want salmonella or botulism poisoning.
I did not see the barista wash her hands once after touching her nose, face or hair.
The floor was sticky, the tables were dirty.
The barista (short, dark short haired) girl was rude and arrogant when I asked her why the coffee machine was not rinsed out and that the coffee was burnt, she responded and told me that her coffee was perfect and not burnt because she never burns her coffee.”

Source: http://decafsucks.com/cafes/711-the-red-herring

I actually hope the reviewer was okay. His coffee tasting like machine cleaner could easily have been the caustic back flush liquid that is used in espresso machines. It requires great care to flush it all out… care that could well be missing given the poor state of the place.

A disgusting, lazy, filthy effort of a cafe that attracted mostly low-life “alternative-culture” wannabes.
There’s plenty of cafes in Canberra that manage to create a unique atmosphere without sacrificing the fundamentals of a good cafe and of hygiene.

Monomyth Monomyth 5:41 pm 12 Jun 11

I walked past this place once. All I could smell and see was cats. It’s like the crazy cat lady obained an ABN – so gross. I can’t believe they would serve food there…

Furry Jesus Furry Jesus 12:55 pm 12 Jun 11

GLB doesn’t have to mean that a business can’t survive. Look at Tilley’s.

sadly, Mr_Shab’s comments ‘…The only businesses that seem to thrive in Civic are high-visibility, high-turnover places; which tend to be very lowest-common-denominator….A little more of the soul of the city is sucked out and made bland.’ are true.

Deciding that a cafe that looks like your lounge room can make a viable business by drawing in enough GLB customers away from the places they’re already going to is a dubious basis for a Civic enterprise. The type of dream that only a 19yo can have. Aah, sweet memory of youth…we can change the world…

breakbrake breakbrake 12:13 pm 12 Jun 11

As both a uni student and an GLBTQ one at that, I could never get the nerve to go in here. Too cool for its own good…and it did seem like a mess.

emd emd 11:11 am 12 Jun 11

I went there a couple of times, the tea was nice and the atmosphere more relaxed and with more to look at on the walls than the places I usually go to in Civic.

BimboGeek BimboGeek 9:24 am 12 Jun 11

Can’t help but wonder how many prejudicial realities one typically encounters over a cappuccino or a big breakfast.

canberralocal canberralocal 4:35 pm 11 Jun 11

Just because something is different doesn’t mean it has soul.

Thumper Thumper 12:01 pm 11 Jun 11

A little more of the soul of the city is sucked out and made bland.

I didn’t know the place even existed yet the above is true.

Eppo Eppo 11:59 am 11 Jun 11

Mr_Shab said :

A little more of the soul of the city is sucked out and made bland.

Honestly, if ‘soul’ is having a cafe which resembles a rat infested flea hole, then the other cities can keep it! I’ve never seen a cafe which looked like such a dive in Melbourne.

qedbynature qedbynature 11:52 am 11 Jun 11

Free market capitalism meets enthusiastic idealism, expected to go three rounds ends in tko in the first. claims of doping to be investigated. thank god for the facebook fotos

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 8:07 am 11 Jun 11

That’s a bummer. It was good to see someone having a crack at something a bit different, but it was doomed from the start. Rents are so damned high in Civic that you need to sell a LOT of coffee to make a go of it. That rather precludes relaxed-pace, homely places like the Red Herring.

I don’t think you can crow-bar a Melbourne-style cafe culture into Canberra (much as we’d like one) with the savagely high fixed costs that businesses in Civic are subject to.

That said, Melbourne-style cafe culture isn’t in Melbourne CBD, it’s in the ‘burbs.

No estate agent is interested in the sustainability of the businesses they put into commercial spaces – there’s always more grist for the mill. The only businesses that seem to thrive in Civic are high-visibility, high-turnover places; which tend to be very lowest-common-denominator.

A little more of the soul of the city is sucked out and made bland.

Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot 2:50 am 11 Jun 11

You said :

The Red Herring was great. Sad to see it go.

The responses on here really aren’t that surprising considering the boring, unenthusiastic nature of Canberran’s. Really, this city has zero culture and practically no enthusiasm for anything that might just be a little bit out of the ordinary. Such is the way of rich public servants.

Hell, even getting uni students to a gig at their own bar is like trying to pull teeth. Maybe this city is just poison.

I’ve never been to the place in question, but as someone who was born in Canberra and spent a few decades there and moved on I have to agree with these sentiments.

Unfortunately the town I once loved has sunken into a cesspool of off white modern establishments lacking any character.

And as for the cynical response to the idea of a place in Canberra acting as a refuge against prejudice etc. Despite Canberra’s left-leaning political ideas it often shames itself in being more judgmental towards those that are different. There are many small towns that are more accepting.

I don’t think I could stand returning to Canberra and being in the ‘CBD’ on a Friday or Saturday night and being subjected to the typical aggressive jock attitude that plagues the town.

Eby Eby 10:01 pm 10 Jun 11

ThatUniStudent said :

The red Herring was marketed almost exclusively to uni students, gay, lesbian, bi and queer uni students. Now I love diversity,more than most people. But I’ve also studied marketing. Yes, people want a “space” of their own. But think it through a minute. Your market is uni students, who are renown for being what in terms of money? Broke, yep, poor. Then the market is limited even more by marketing almost exclusively to a sub set of those students. Who are renowned for being what in terms of money? Even poorer.

Why are GLB uni students poorer than heterosexual uni students?

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