Our story begins with chef and owner Greig Walker, whose elder brother would only hang out with him on condition that he cook for him and his friends. Fair deal, since even at that early stage Greig had begun to nurture an idea to run his own restaurant one day. A solid plan to achieve this would have been to enrol himself at a culinary school, except he misread the admission forms and ended up Wits Technikon Hotel School instead.
In the end it wasn’t such a bad idea, the business acumen he acquired is invaluable, but he wasn’t a particularly good student. He probably skipped as many classes as he attended to take on more shifts as a waiter, first-hand experience being more his style.
These days we’re a few wing flaps from Braamfontein Spruit’s bird sanctuary, where the lake formerly stretched. This green space is a breath-of-fresh-air hang out for the neighbourhoods’ dogs, joggers, cyclists, strollers and birdwatchers, and many drop in at the café afterwards (well behaved dogs are welcome). Our local primary school is just up the road, as are our shops, and around us are the homes of our neighbours and customers. Over the years, many have become friends.
Surrounding the café is a veranda, which is cool in summer and sunny in winter. This means that you can sit outside all year round enjoying the city’s usually beautiful weather. At night, candle-lit tables make it romantic, and on chillier days our indoor wood-fired pizza oven is there to keep things cosy. Assets like these create the easy-going atmosphere that we like to work in, and where you’re afforded the opportunity to get to know the waiters by name. All this familiarity is like a deep cushioned couch that eases tensions, at least that’s the idea, with great food to match.
Since food bridges communities, another secret to our enduring success is having a menu that is worth coming back for. We’re known for our Parmesan Chicken (which has been on the menu since day one and we dare not remove it), Rump n’ Roll, and Mussels with Chorizo.
Working with food there has to be an obvious connection to our customers. We offer vegetarian and vegan meals alongside the omnivorous, deliciously healthy alongside the deliciously not-so-healthy. Our insistence is on real food whose ingredients are fresh and providence is known, so we make as we can much ourselves, including pasta and our own bread. Our preference veers toward the best option ingredients we can find – quality you can taste straight away. It is part of our ‘trading consciously’ philosophy, which implies an ethic of honesty in what we do – you won’t find anything hidden or artificial here. The idea is that you eat well (and enjoy a great cocktail).
Freshness is big, artificial is out and homemade is in.
As much as possible we prefer to keep it in the community and support local businesses. We are also aware that we live in a world where animals, as much as people, need kindness and remain appreciative and respectful of the animals that provide us with our food.
Team Player of the Month
Reliability and trustworthiness are hard to come by, and you are someone we can count on. May we acknowledge your consistent, unfailing hard work over the past 16 years, for which we are not only very grateful but equally impressed.
You play a crucial role in our team, and in our business. Thank you, Godfrey, from the entire team, for always doing your best, every day.
Fight With Insight
Children are referred to ‘Fight with Insight’ by the South African Youth Justice system. Boxing lessons are used as a form of supervised play therapy, where the rules of boxing: respect for others, adherence to referee’s decisions, accepting his/her verdict and for those who don’t win, the ability to gracefully accept it, teach children how to respond constructively in ways that protect themselves and others, from physical and emotional harm. Ultimately, the project’s teaching of controlled aggression hopes to break the cycle of violence begetting violence that leads to young people becoming adult offenders.