The New Govardhana farm community has opened its third Govinda’s restaurant, located in Kingscliff, New South Wales in Australia, to a very warm welcome.
New Govardhana launched two previous Govinda’s in Burleigh Heads in 2009 and Coolangatta in 2019, which provide the bulk of the farm’s income. Altogether, the Kingscliff location is the eighth Hare Krishna restaurant between New Govardhana and the Gold Coast, demonstrating the Australian appetite for prasadam.
Like Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta, Kingscliff Govinda’s carries the familiar smiling face of Lord Jagannath against a green background, and is located in a popular beach town within walking distance of the beach.
“You can see the ocean from the restaurant, and it is opposite an esplanade recently renovated by the local council,” says General Manager Nitai Chandra Das, who oversees the restaurants on behalf of the New Govardhana temple along with a team of mostly second generation devotees.
With the success of their first two restaurants, the team was looking for the right opportunity to expand, and Kingscliff was an ideal spot. One reason for this was that the state border between New South Wales and Queensland is closed to non-essentials due to COVID-19. Because the Coolangatta Govinda’s is located in Queensland right on the border, many of its customers had hailed from NSW. The new Govinda’s in Kingscliff, situated in the top end of New South Wales, is making life easier for them.
Nitai Chandra explains that although there is a travel bubble to allow border residents to live and work mostly as normal, “We were seeing a number of our customers struggling to get to us, so we thought we would go to them.”
Open from 11am to 8pm daily, Govinda’s Kingscliff was designed by a second generation devotee and features a modern, coastal look with arches, terracotta tiles and live plants to match the fresh food.
The menu is identical to New Govardhana’s two other restaurants, offering the healthy, affordable and wholesome prasadam that has garnered them a strong following over the years.
The main offering is a small, medium or large combination plate with a choice of 2, 3 or 4 dishes including veggie curry, creamy potato bake, a daily special, dal, cauliflower pakoras, and Govinda’s famous kofta balls, as well as three chutneys, avocado and roast pumpkin salad, tofu and sesame salad, kofta salad, pesto pasta and greek salad. Separate items such as samosas, spinach and feta filo pastries, and lasagna can also be purchased as well as drinks and desserts like cheesecake or cupcakes.
As well as dining in customers can order from home through delivery partners such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, or call ahead to arrange kerbside pick-up.
Amid the pandemic, Govinda’s is applying the COVID-safe plan required for all businesses in Australia, with limited dining space, a limited number of customers allowed inside at any one time, social distancing, and an automatic hand-sanitizing station. (Face masks aren’t required in Australia except for certain areas.)
“We have been constantly adjusting our systems to meet and exceed any government restrictions since the beginning of COVID,” Nitai Chandra says. “The health department has given us a five-star rating, and the inspector later returned to eat her lunch at the Kingscliff restaurant!”
The new Govinda’s has also brought a much-needed food alternative as well as around twenty to thirty jobs to the area. The Kingscliff local Facebook group exploded with positivity when the restaurant was announced, with over 500 comments including, “this is the best news of 2020.”
The new Govinda’s in Kingscliff, New South Wales
The story also attracted attention from the local branch of the national Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“I spoke to the reporter about how we have a spiritual purpose behind our restaurant, which originates in caring for our cows,” Nitai Chandra says. “We invited her to the New Govardhana farm, where she met and interviewed my father Krsna Kirtan Das, who trains the young oxen. She wrote an article, and also put it on local radio; the story was then picked up by the national station who interviewed my father live on air about the farm and how we care for the cows until their last breath. All the reports were very positive.”
All Govinda’s restaurants have a Krishna conscious atmosphere, with small altars for Gaura Nitai and Jagannath, and devotional music playing softly in the background. The mood is open and welcoming, with customers – who range from families to senior citizens to body builders and social media influencers – inquring about Krishna consciousness at their own disgression and their own pace.
“I like to see Govinda’s as a great entry point for people to discover a connection to Krishna and His devotees for the first time,” Nitai Chandra says. “It’s welcoming and open to anyone, which sees people become more favorable, and allows Krishna and His devotees to more easily come into their lives at any point.”
Govinda’s also creates job opportunities where like-minded individuals can learn about the Hare Krishnas while working in hospitality without having to handle meat – something many are very appreciative of.
Looking to the future, the Govinda’s team are already searching for a suitable location for a centralized commercial kitchen, which will allow them to continue their growth.
“With the kitchen will come our fourth location, with the aim to start a fifth one within the next three years,” Nitai Chandra says.
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