Queer Anarchist “Pay-What-You-Can” Cafe In Glasgow Closes Due To Lack Of Profit, Leftist Backlash

Tobietje Paeschen

A self-described “queer, Yiddish, anarchist, vegan” coffee shop in Glasgow’s south end that allowed customers to “pay-what-you-can” down to $0 has announced it will be closing due to financial difficulty.

The Pink Peacock, which was opened in 2020 by an anarchist collective, made the announcement on its website today, noting that it was “with very heavy hearts” that they could not maintain their business.

In an accompanying 3-page closing statement, the cafe owners blame racism, disability, harassment from other leftists, burnout, and internal conflicts for the closing, but begrudgingly admit to having had financial difficulties.

“We’re so sad it’s come to this, and we want to be transparent about what’s been happening. The short answer is burnout. we’ve all been volunteers this whole time, and like everyone we’re struggling under capitalism and kyriarchy. Most of us are disabled, and the ongoing pandemic is still hurting our collective physical and mental health. The constant battle to keep ourselves financially afloat didn’t help,” the statement begins.

“On top of the expected right-wing backlash from TERFs and bootlickers, we have received a frankly astonishing amount of antisemitic vitriol over the last 3 years from self-described leftists who have doxxed us, harassed us online and off, and spread rumors about us being ‘landlords,’ ‘bosses,’ ‘profiting off the holocaust’ and ‘shitting in mailboxes.'”

The cafe advertised itself as “everybody welcome,” but in parenthesis advised “cops and TERFs” to stay away. TERF is an acronym standing for “trans exclusionary radical feminist,” but is often broadly applied to those who disagree with gender ideology. It is often paired with abuse or threats of violence.

The statement continues that some members also faced “racism internally” from other members of the anarchist collective, adding that it was “depressingly common in majority-white leftist spaces.”

The collective boasts 29 members, which are declared as being majority “queer, trans, women &/or non-binary, disabled, neurodivergent, white, and low-income.” The collective maintained a “diversity monitoring” spreadsheet which lists members as young as 16.

In their closing statement, the collective acknowledges that the cafe had consistency issues, and was not always open when it stated it would be. In Google customer reviews of the franchise, many note that it took an inordinate amount of time for orders to be made.

A number of Google users also complain about the food quality, which they described as poor.

“Most people seem to be reviewing the cafe on an ideological level but it is a material place and must be reviewed on a materialist level. When taken as real objects and not concepts, the coffee is awful, the bread is endearingly amateurish – it looks like a granny’s living room and the staff don’t seem to want you there. It is sitcom worthy and therefore has charm but little else,” one user review reads.

Another says: “The staff are impolite and self important and CONSTANTLY reference their numerous tip jars. Just avoid this dump. It is quite simply one of the worst cafes I have ever been in anywhere in the world.”

One user, who is a designated Google Local Guide, claims the cafe owners don’t actually speak Yiddish, and condemned them for cultural appropriation.

In addition to the cafe, the collective also operated a merchandise store where they sold posters, tote bags, prints, and pins. One of the posters they offered reads “children have an inalienable right to be gay.”

The merchandise shop was also “pay-what-you-can.”

The Pink Peacock Cafe will close its doors on June 14.

Interestingly, the cafe is not the first anarchist “pay-what-you-can” restaurant to face financial turmoil this year.

As previously reported by The Publica, The Anarchist Cafe in Toronto, Canada announced it would be closing on May 30 after only one year of operation.

“It’s been an amazing experience, connecting with so many great community members, sparking desperately needed debate, raising the blood pressure of Conservatives (that includes you, “anarcho-capitalists” and “Libertarians”), fulfilling the dream of most service workers by not having to tolerate the presence of professional class-traitors (pigs and military), and experimenting with living and working in ways that don’t enthusiastically embrace the pure misanthropy of Capitalism,” the cafe’s statement read.

“Unfortunately, the lack of generational wealth/seed capital from ethically bankrupt sources left me unable to weather the quiet winter season, or to grow in the ways needed to be sustainable longer-term.”

While the cafe was initially set to shutter at the end of May, a GoFundMe has since been launched in an attempt to keep the lights on.

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Tobietje Paeschen

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