A brand new Crossways Hare Krishna Restaurant has opened in the heart of the busiest part of Melbourne, Australia, serving inexpensive all-you-can-eat vegetarian and vegan meals to the Melbourne community.
The restaurant opened on Monday, December 6th, with Melbourne temple president Aniruddha Das cutting the ribbon in a low-key celebration.
Crossways has a major fan base, and people lined up outside as the restaurant was about to open.
The familiar face of Lord Jagannatha looks out from the sign above the door of the restaurant; the ground floor, outdoor seating, and first floor can each seat about forty customers, with a takeaway facility for those in a hurry.
The second floor of the building, which includes an office and an area for bhajan nights, yoga, and one-on-one preaching, can house about twenty people. Books are distributed and available in the upstairs Bhakti Lounge, as well as throughout the restaurant.
Prasadam for Crossways is cooked at the Melbourne ISKCON temple, where there is a large kitchen facility, and transported to the restaurant twice a day, for daytime and evening meals. The menu changes twice a day, with a different menu on offer every day, six days a week.
On Monday, for instance, lunch is satay vegetables, basmati rice, papadums, drinks, and raisin halava and custard for dessert; while dinner is chickpea with vegetables in pumpkin sauce, couscous and apple crumble. Other dishes include jasmine rice, chickpea, and spinach curry, Malaysian, Thai, and South Indian curry, mixed vegetables in coconut sauce, and pasta with lentils. Desserts on different days include peach, cherry, orange, and pineapple halava with custard, as well as vegan cake, almond toffee fudge, berry sago pudding, and sticky date pudding.
For the past thirty years or more, Crossways has been an outreach venture for the Melbourne temple, distributing low-cost meals to students, the unemployed, and the general public, or those that find themselves in the “crossways of life,” hence the restaurant’s name. Over the years, Crossways has distributed thousands upon thousands of meals annually.
Bhakta Das, Communications Officer for ISKCON Melbourne, explains: “Crossways was our former temple president Balarama Prabhu’s idea to counter people’s negative opinion of the Hare Krishna Movement in the 1980s, by providing a social service to the broader public of Melbourne and people in need – a very low cost, all-you-can-eat meal.”
Bhakta Das adds: “The distribution of so much prasadam over the years to thousands – perhaps millions – has changed the public’s opinion of the Hare Krishna Movement here in Melbourne, and has benefited us with Government grant funding, a good response to book distribution, and much more.”
Crossways has always been located in the heart of the city of Melbourne, in various locations. When the most recent facility’s lease expired and the property was sold, the restaurant was relocated in a temporary facility for a year or so. Then, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the city was without Crossways for some time, until Bhakta Das was assigned to look for a new property in the business district of downtown Melbourne.
“We had been looking for a new premises during the pandemic, dealing with various real estate agents until finally, I spotted this place,” Bhakta says.
When Bhakta found it, the building was rather dilapidated and needed major repairs to the roof and flooring. The whole building also needed to be redecorated, and new fittings installed to suit devotees’ needs.
Once the repairs were made, however, Crossways now had a new home that was prime real-estate, in the heart of the busiest part of Melbourne.
“Thousands of pedestrians pass by each day, and with the prospect of a new underground railway just across the road from our premises being built in the next few years, the potential is huge,” Bhakta says.
He adds: “This kind of socially aware outreach program has been a great benefit to our preaching here in Melbourne. And by the Lord’s grace, we now have probably the best location we could possibly have gotten in the whole of Australia. We expect it will be successful for many more years to come.”
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