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Back to business for Cape Town retailers

by SIMANGELE MZIZI 27 May 2020
Vixi Social House

Retailers in the Cape Town Central City have begun to resuscitate (and even reinvent) their businesses following the easing of regulations governing South Africa’s nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

As the world reels from the effects of Covid-19, resilient business owners in the Mother City’s CBD have proved that “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change”.

Moving swiftly and with admirable agility, many of the CBD’s food establishments — stung by the stringent regulations instituted by Government at the start of Lockdown in South Africa on 26 March 2020 — changed the way they operated in a bid to stay afloat. Many sit-down restaurants, from casual eateries to iconic restaurants, become food delivery services of items deemed “essential”. Some, including Beerhouse, Bamboo Plant Power, The Community Chest of the Western Cape  and Infinity Culinary Training, opened their doors to help alleviate the plight of the destitute — even though they, too, were experiencing the toughest of times and staring closure in the face.

Other businesses made their services available online, or turned to various social media platforms to interact with their customers: Ignite Fitness started conducting daily workouts on Instagram, The Fugard Theatre began streaming some of its work and many of the Central City’s galleries including StateoftheART and WORLDART put their exhibitions online.

With the recent easing of the lockdown regulations from Level 5 to Level 4 allowing deliveries, the opening up of e-commerce and Level 3 starting on 1 June 2020, many other CBD businesses are up and running again, or will be soon. They are doing deliveries using their own vehicles or through online platforms such as Mr D Food and Uber Eats, embracing e-commerce opportunities and encouraging patrons to make online purchases as physical distancing becomes our new normal.

ADAPTING TO CHANGE

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The Electric Team pic

Staff at The Electric in the East City are happy to be back at work.

Janette de Villiers, co-owner of The Electric, a nut-milk bar, sandwich shop and bakery in the CBD’s East City, says they applied for a permit at the start of Lockdown and were allowed to deliver juice and vegetable boxes. “It has been worth it,” she says. “We have had some great support from our local community and customer base and have managed to keep some staff working.”

As Lockdown continues, Janette says they are doing everything in their power to survive. 

“We’re trying to service a few nearby businesses at mealtimes, boosting each other’s social media presence, doing deliveries, putting ourselves on delivery platforms and adapting our menu as much as possible for takeaway,” she says. The Electric also managed to raise over R20 000 for its Lavender Hill community feeding scheme.

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Jennifer Hugé, Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss

In the Lockdown FYN Restaurant kitchen is, from left, Jennifer Hugé, Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss.

FYN Restaurant, the award-winning fine-dining star of the East City, has come up with FYN from HOME, a delivery service that allows patrons to enjoy their dishes at home. The service includes a five-course menu as well as a family option for sharing, adapted from existing dishes from the FYN menu, says chef de patron Peter Tempelhoff.

Peter says to serve fine-dining food in takeaway form “took a fair amount of designing and planning”. “As people need to reheat the food, we had to keep the hot food options to a minimum. So, only the main course is hot and the other courses are cold. We also had to ensure the food reached people’s homes looking great so we are serving sauces separately and labelling them accordingly.”

While they’ve planned extensively, getting the food into people’s homes as quickly as possible without using a delivery company is their biggest challenge, as is organising the parcels. “Overall, I think the food itself is working well and travelling very well, and our non-alcoholic cocktails also being well received.” In addition to running FYN, Peter is participating in the #100MealChallenge where he is preparing over 100 meals a day for schools in Khayelitsha.

Andrew Valk, operator at VIXI Social House, which offers a Mediterranean menu, says with Level 4 lockdown in place, they have also resumed operations and are offering free deliveries.

“We asked our web developer to adapt our website to cater for online orders and payments and have introduced a VIXI Online Deli option. We have also signed up for Mr D Food and Uber Eats as we were not on these platforms before,” he explains.

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

Even though many businesses are up and running, in some form or other, they admit that it’s incredibly difficult. To be frank, they are worried about what the future holds.

“Our turnover is only a fraction of what we were achieving before the lockdown. As a new business, that is difficult. We are here though, and we are fighting the good fight. I am optimistic that we will come out of this stronger,” said Andrew.

Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room owner Lyndall Maunder shares Andrew’s sentiments. “I don’t know how we’ll make it to the other side. Currently we’re reaching half of our daily target that we need to cover costs and labour, and it only provides for five people currently working. There are no funds to pay the other 45 staff members. I can’t imagine when the business will be in any position to bring in more of our staff or the implications for the people losing their jobs. We are in a perfect storm,” she says.

To survive, Clarke’s is currently offering delivery and collection of organic vegetables, baked goods and a wide range of meat, including free range beef plus Cheeseburger and Sloppy Joe DIY Kits. Favourite items from the Clarke’s menu are available on Mr D Food and Uber Eats.

Having opened its doors in late 2019, Stellski Coffee Bar is also feeling the pinch. However, owner Megan Kritzinger says: “We have persevered and we’re super-happy to be back in business delivering our delicious hot coffee, toasties and treats in the CBD and neighbouring areas. We’re also selling our bags of Stellski African Blend Beans and ground coffee.” She adds: “I am optimistic that we will all get through this and come out stronger than ever.”

If you’re one of the many South Africans who couldn’t wait for restaurants and eateries to re-open in one form or another, here’s a handy list of who’s doing what in the CBD. Please support them!

HERE'S A SELECTION OF CDB EATERIES THAT ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS:

PRECINCT 1

1. Burger King
If you’ve missed grilled burgers, fries and shakes, Burger King has got you covered through Mr D Food and Uber Eats.
Business hours: 09h00 – 19h00
Address: 33 Heerengracht St
Tel: 080 946 7737
Website: www.burgerking.co.za

2. Folk Café
Folk has a delivery menu which has breakfasts, pastries as well as café favourites including burgers, smoothies and food boxes. Customers can order directly from the Folk Café website.
Business hours: 08h00 – 18h00
Address: 7 Bree St
Tel: 021 276 1795
Website: www.folkcafe.co.za

3. Col’Cacchio
Col’Cacchio says you can now “pack away the banana bread ingredients and forget about the gluten-free cookie recipe”. The outlet has a slightly reduced pizza menu available through Uber Eats and Mr D Food.
Business hours: 11h00 – 19h00
Address: 42 Hans Strijdom Ave
Tel: 021 419 4848      
Website: www.colcacchio.co.za

4. Seattle Coffee Co
Seattle Coffee Co is delivering its quality coffee and a selection of pastries, muffins, cookies and brownies within a 2-kilometre radius. The outlet says to make the deliveries possible, it has sourced drivers that can help baristas deliver.
Business hours: 09h00 – 17h00 (Monday to Saturday), 09h00 – 16h00 (Sunday)
Address: 4 Loop St
Tel: 021 425 7741
Website: www.seattlecoffeecompany.co.za

5. Vida e caffè
You can now get your vida fix – smoothies, freshly prepared toasties, filled croissants and baguettes — through Mr D Food and Uber Eats.
Business hours: 09h00 – 17h00 (Monday to Sunday)
Address: Hans Strijdom Ave
Tel: 021 421 3974
Website: www.vidaecaffe.com

PRECINCT 2

1. Bukhara Indian Food
To support its staff, Bhukhara is operating as a delivery service and offering chilled meals from its kitchen, cook-in sauces and frozen meals. The business has vegan, Indian, Asian and Mexican meal options.
Business hours: Orders must be placed and paid for online by 12h00 for delivery between 16h00 and 19h00.
Address: 33 Church St
Tel: 021 424 0000 / 418 5600
Website: www.bukhara.com

2. Dapper Coffee Co.
Dapper has introduced an online grocery platform that delivers within three to five days in Cape Town and surrounding areas. With Level 4 in place, and Level 3 imminent, Dapper is continuing with its grocery platform and has added takeaway coffee, tea and other menu options for free delivery within a 5-km radius.
Business hours: 07h00 – 17h00
Address: Corner Bree & Strand streets
Tel: 021 001 2560 / 072 179 4953 (WhatsApp)
Website: www.dappercafe.co.za

3. The Velvet Cake Co.
If you have a sweet tooth, The Velvet Cake Co. has got you covered with its online shop, plus there’s no minimum item order. “You can order one single cupcake to be delivered to your door,” says The Velvet Cake Co. The turnaround time is 24 hours, which means if you order today, you’ll get your order tomorrow.
Business hours: 09h00 – 17h00 (Monday to Friday), 09h00 – 14h00 (Saturday)
Address: 16 Loop St
Tel: 021 914 0482
Website: www.thevelvetcakeco.com

4. Simply Asia
Simply Asia’s authentic Thai food is now available through Mr D Food and Uber Eats.
Business hours: 11h30 – 20h00 (Monday to Saturday)
Address: 96 Shortmarket St
Tel: 021 426 4347      
Website: www.simplyasia.co.za

PRECINCT 3

1. Mulberry & Prince
Mulberry & Prince is offering brunch favourites for delivery in the City Bowl, Gardens, Tamboerskloof, Oranjezicht, Vredehoek, De Waterkant, Sea Point and Green Point. Please note that delivery is for a minimum order of R300.
Business hours: Delivery is available daily from 12h00 to 18h00.
Address: 12 Pepper St
Tel: 021 422 3301 / 063 783 7531 (WhatsApp)
Website: www.mulberryandprince.co.za

2. Jason Bakery
The agile Jason Lilley of Jason Bakery has adapted to Lockdown by creating a range of “survival packs” for delivery. You can either get breakfast, pizza, pastry or vegan packs if you live in the CBD, Camps Bay or Southern Suburbs. Jason’s famous doughssants are also available to order for collection and are included in his “Saturday pleasure packs”.
Business hours: Orders for “survival packs” must be placed by 12h00 on Tuesday for delivery on Thursday and 12h00 on Wednesday for delivery of Friday. For doughssants, pre-orders close at 17h00 on Fridays and open again at 7h00 on Mondays.
Address: 185 Bree St
Tel: 021 424 5644
Website: www.jasonbakery.co.za

3. SeaBreeze Fish & Shell
To adapt to Lockdown, SeaBreeze Fish & Shell has been selling fresh seafood for home delivery. With the easing of Lockdown regulations, the restaurant is continuing with the service as it has been popular with patrons and is also selling seafood from its store. Cooking ingredients to go with orders are included, and handy videos on how to prepare fish dishes can be found on the SeaBreeze Fish & Shell Facebook page.
Business hours: Place your order before 22h00 for next day delivery, or when it suits you.
Address: 213 Bree St
Tel: 074 793 9349
Website: www.seabreezecapetown.co.za

4. PLANT
Vegan food lovers can now enjoy scrumptious food from PLANT, including savoury buckwheat crêpes and burgers.
Business hours: Place orders directly from PLANT’s website before 12h00 for same day delivery. Delivery is free in a 5-km radius in the CBD.
Address: 8 Buiten St
Tel: 072 521 9252
Website: www.plantcafe.co.za

5. Clarkes Bookshop
Clarke’s Bookshop is trading again – under the eased lockdown regulations, stationery and educational books can be sold. While its doors are open, Clarke’s is also encouraging online orders and is offering free delivery around Cape Town and will also courier or post across the country and internationally.
Business hours: 09h00 – 17h00
Address: 199 Long St
Tel: 021 423 5739
Website: www.clarkesbooks.co.za

PRECINCT 4

1. Seed & Circus
To adapt to Lockdown, Seed & Circus teamed up with Lapo’s Kitchen to launch the Alimentari Honest Grocer, an online goods grocer. The online shop can be accessed on Uber Eats and offers a box filled with various fresh vegetables and Seed & Circus staples such as oat milk and eggs. Seed & Circus will also be rolling out some of its menu items for delivery.
Business hours: 07h00 – 15h00 (Monday to Saturday)
Address: 7 Constitution St
Website: https://www.instagram.com/seedandcircus/

2. Nude Foods
Nude Foods, a zero-waste natural foods store, has been operating as an essential service using limited staff. To adhere to safety measures, the store introduced curbside pickup, online ordering, home delivery and instore shopping by appointment.
Business hours: 09h00 – 18h00
Address: 5 Constitution St
Tel: 021 437 3003 / 076 461 9477 (WhatsApp number)
Website: www.nudefoods.co.za

3. RocoMamas
If you have been craving those mouth-watering Smash Burgers, you can now get your fix at RocoMamas on Harrington Street. The store is Halaal and is delivering through Uber Eats and Mr D Food.
Business hours: 11h00 – 21h00
Tel: 021 201 7422
Address: 29 Corner Buitenkant & Barrack streets
Website: https://www.facebook.com/RocoHarrington/

4. Lekker Vegan
Fans of plant-based junk-food can now order Lekker Vegan’s mouth-watering chicken-style burgers, beef-style gatsbys, cheese-style spring rolls and chicken style nuggets. Orders can be made directly from Lekker Vegan’s website and they’ll personally deliver for a minimum order of R220.
Business hours: Orders can be made from Tuesday to Sunday from noon until 18h30.
Tel: 084 903 6697
Address: Corner Barrack & Harrington streets
Website: www.lekkervegan.co.za

5. Just Like Papa
Just Like Papa, which specialises in quality outdoor goods, is open for business and has launched a range of Just Like Papa Experience Packages to give customers an unforgettable experience and to support its staff. Packages include a tattoo voucher, a fun day in the dunes in a Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6X6 and a day on the range. The retailer also sells essential items such as winter gear, coffee, wood and fuel.
Business hours: 10h00 – 19h00
Address: 71 Harrington St
Tel: 087 470 0186
Website: www.justlikepapa.com

6. Swan Café
Swan Café, which has just celebrated its second birthday, in the East City has introduced Swan Crêperie Kits and an online delivery service for these. The options, which include a Swan Breakfast Kit, Swan Vegan Kit and Swan Sweet Kit, are also available for collection at street level. Ready-made savoury galettes and sweet crêpes from the Swan Café menu are also available for delivery. There is also a Father's Day special.
Business hours: 08h00 – 16h00. Delivery and collection is from 10h00 to 16h00 from Monday to Friday. Orders must be placed via WhatsApp or by emailing orders@swancafe.co.za⁠.
Address: Corner Buitenkant & Barrack streets
Tel: 079 454 4758 (WhatsApp)
Website: www.swancafe.co.za

For a full list of CBD retailers that are open for deliveries, click here.

IMAGES: FYN Restaurant, CCID