Vegan Cafe That Enforced An 18 Percent 'Man Tax' Set To Close After Two Years

Handsome Her, a cafe in Melbourne that enforces a 'tax' on male diners will soon close its doors for good.

The Brunswick-based vegan restaurant opened in 2017 and quickly made international headlines with its bold approach to women's rights.

The venue's 'man tax' rule -- as inscribed on a chalkboard out front -- stated that men would be charged an 18 percent premium to "reflect the gender pay gap."

The chalkboard also displayed two other rules -- "women have priority seating" and "respect goes both ways."

READ MORE: #IWD2019: Why It Will Take 202 Years For Women To Earn What Men Do

The reason behind the decision to close isn't fully clear however the owners wrote on Facebook that they "are off to our next adventure up north where we will be doing some hands-on work."

After Handsome Her opened co-owner Alexandra O’Brien told Seven News that the tax -- which was enforced one week per month -- was not compulsory.

"If people aren't comfortable paying it or men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just a good opportunity to do some good," O'Brien said.

The tax was donated to women's charities including Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women's Services.

In a Facebook post shared just days after their 'man tax' went viral the cafe reported that they were "jam-packed with customers showing their support" and even had men "travel across the country to visit us and pay the 'man tax'."

Despite this Handsome Her received its fair share of criticism. In a Facebook event for their farewell, O'Brien called the last two years a "wild journey" and reflected upon the backlash received from men's rights activists and even members of their own LGBTQIA+ community.

"We were just one little tiny shop on Sydney Rd that was trying to carve out a swathe of space to prioritise women and women's issues, and suddenly we became the punching bag of Melbourne and the internet," she wrote.

Yes, we are the evil, discriminatory, man-hating dykes who charge men more when didn't you know the wage gap doesn't even exist!?

For "practical and principled reasons" O'Brien and her team have "not engaged in online nastiness or responded to pile-ons" but instead encouraged open and respectful face-to-face debate at the cafe.

The cafe's last day was initially April 14 but due to "a bizarre twist of fate (and business dealings)" it was able to remain open for a further two weeks. The official last day of trade will be April 28.

On their last day, Handsome Her will offer a 'pay as you feel' scheme with all proceeds going to Maiti Nepal, a charity that protects Nepali girls and women from domestic violence, sex trafficking and child labour.

Handsome Her patrons have expressed their sadness about the closure while praising the cafe online.

"Congratulations on the amazing work you have done for women's communities!" wrote one fan.

"I’m so sad to hear that you are closing but am so grateful to have been able to visit you in December! It was a real highlight of our epic trip, not just for myself but for my daughters as well," said another.

READ MORE: What Aussies Really Think About Workplace Gender Equality

The state of (gender pay) play

The current gender pay gap in Australia for full-time workers is 14.1 percent according to the Federal Government.

Women earn on average $239.80 per week less than men.

The gender pay gap is lowest in Victoria -- at 9.3 percent -- and highest in Western Australia at 23.1 percent.

10 daily has reached out to Handsome Her for comment.

Feature image: Facebook/handsomeherbrunswick.