Can I have a private function here?

Of course.

We host functions for 3 - 300 people. Send us an email!

Where are you located?

In the CBD.

36 Manchester Lane
Melbourne 3022

Do you serve food?

YES! Like the interior of Shebeen, the food is a mish-mash of cultures. We've got a particular focus on jazzed-up Vietnamese style banh mi's, but instead of cold terrine we are filling them with parfait and crispy pork belly, lemongrass and chili marinated tofu with crispy noodles, Moroccan meatball with pine nuts, and Mexican chipotle pulled pork with (our very special) crack sauce.

You're a non-profit. Do your staff get paid?

Generally speaking, Shebeen operates like a regular business – we pay a commercial rent and all of our staff are paid award rates. 

The difference between Shebeen and a regular business is that the “owners” (technically Directors not “owners”, because a non-profit company does not have equity so there is nothing to own) do not keep all of the profits that the company generates – instead all of the profits are given to the beneficiary organisations that Shebeen supports.

Do the business owners get paid?

One of the three Directors, or business “owners”, runs the operational side of the business.  As a result, they draw a salary, but this salary is currently less than that of Shebeen’s regular full-time staff.

How does this profit donation thing actually work?

Basically every sale (banh mi, coffee, cocktails, wine, etc, etc) at Shebeen helps to create a pool of profits.  Twice a year we look at how much profit Shebeen has generated, then divide it up and send it to the current beneficiary partners.  The profits are divided according to the sales of beer, cider, wine, and El Jimador margaritas – every Ethiopian beer sale sends profits to Kickstart in Ethiopia, and each South African wine sends profits to Room to Read in South Africa.  So your choice at the bar determines where our profits end up.

What is a "Shebeen"?

Short version: originally they were illegal places in South Africa to meet, drink and have a merry time.

Long version: (thanks to Wikipedia) in South Africa and Zimbabwe, shebeens are most often located in black townships as an alternative to pubs and bars, where under apartheid and the Rhodesian era, black Africans could not enter a pub or bar reserved for whites.

Originally, shebeens were operated illegally, selling homebrewed and home-distilled alcohol and providing patrons with a place to meet and discuss political and social issues. Often, patrons and owners were arrested by the police, though the shebeens were frequently reopened because of their importance in unifying the community and providing a safe place for discussion. During the apartheid era shebeens became a crucial meeting place for activists, some attracting working class activists and community members, while others attracted lawyers, doctors and musicians.

Shebeens also provided music and dancing, allowing patrons to express themselves culturally, which helped give rise and support the musical genre kwaito. Currently, shebeens are legal in South Africa and have become an integral part of South African urban culture, serving commercial beers as well as umqombothi, a traditional African beer made from maize and sorghum. Shebeens still form an important part of today’s social scene. In contemporary South Africa, they serve a function similar to juke joints for African Americans in the rural south. They represent a sense of community, identity, and belonging.

Today, they appeal to South Africa’s youth, and are mostly owned by men. Shebeens are bouncing back as South Africans try to preserve some of their cultural heritage.

Where can I buy your t-shirts

From our online store!