Southport’s only fully vegan restaurant, Megafauna, has closed, with its owner saying “the decision breaks my heart”.
Owner Ben Chew says his dream venture “Isn’t going completely but looking at new ways to keep Megafauna alive through the takeaway, teaching, catering and special menu events”.
He asked customers to look out for vegan cooking classes and exclusive dinners to book onto.
Megafauna moved into its bigger new home inside Cambridge Arcade in Southport town centre in August 2021 in the former Le Boulevard restaurant unit.
The popular vegan café had built up a fast-growing following since opening on Wesley Street in 2018.
The venue has been impacted by ongoing delays by JSM to begin building work on the former BHS site on the corner of Cambridge Arcade and Chapel Street, and by repair work on the Lord Street end of the arcade and at Southport Town Hall which will continue until March next year.
Ben Chew said: “For now this is the only way.
“It breaks my heart to have to do this but the cafe just isn’t working as it is. It’s easy for us to blame the state of the arcade but the issue is multifaceted and not unique to just us as the cost of living crisis has been taking its toll on independent hospitality businesses for a while.
“We aren’t going completely but looking at new ways to keep Megafauna alive through the takeaway, teaching, catering and special menu events.
“I will post regularly (on Megafauna pages on Facebook and Instagram) to keep you all updated.
“Bookings for the cooking classes will be going live in a week and the first special menu will be shortly after.
“Thank you to everyone who has been in the cafe from Wesley Street to Cambridge Arcade.
“Those who have supported us from the beginning and new faces since we upgraded, I’ve looked, talked to you all about veganism, food, life and everything in between.
“It’s not goodbye yet. But see you soon.”
Lots of Megafauna customers took to social media to express their support for Megafauna and for Ben .
Jane Garretty said: “Beautiful food delivered just tonight. Will support you in the future.”
Debs Huighes said: “We will always support you as much as we can, Ben. Fingers and paws and hooves crossed for you, from me and everyone at Freshfields.”
Cranberry’s Coffee Shop said: “So sad, you are a hidden gem for Vegan food in Southport. Keep fighting and hopefully something good will come along in the future.”
Jai J Brierley said: “Oh no! I’m so sad about this. We don’t get into the cafe as often as we should – but it’s always nice knowing you’re there and I’ve always talked about you and recommended you to fellow vegans. I hope you’re able to get a café running again.”
Les Jackson said: “Sad but inevitable at the moment sadly. You are the only decent, in my mind, fully vegan catering establishment in the Southport town centre area. Just not enough footfall on a daily basis.
“I love your takeaways though, and hope you will add vegan pizzas to the line-up, because I can’t get any decent ones anywhere else, and the others are a rip-off. I don’t really want to support other businesses that sell so much meat within their range either.
“I look forward to following the cooking course exploits.”
Ben moved into his first venue on Wesley Street five years ago, choosing a small unit to start with as he tried to assess whether there was enough demand for making his dream become a reality.
The response was overwhelming.
Ben said two years ago: “We realised as early as six months in that we were going to need bigger premises.
“I under-estimated the size of the vegan community in Southport.
“The vegan community is growing every month, getting bigger all the time.
“People who come to Megafauna know that they can do so with real customer confidence.
“They want to be able to visit a café or a restaurant where they know that their needs and requirements are going to be adhered to.
“Not only that, but are they going to be able to find something tasty and interesting to eat?
“We want to be able to give diners the guarantee that the vegan option is not going to be the after-thought at the very end of the menu.”
The café’s busy kitchen created great vegan and gluten free treats for customers to enjoy.
The menu changed daily and weekly but you could always count on there being vegan pastries and sandwiches to eat, gluten free frittatas and salad selections, soup made in their kitchen and their famous vegan and gluten free cakes.
Megafauna worked closely with local growers and veg suppliers to offer only the best in local and seasonal produce.