Chef Bertus Basson and his team of restaurant and interior designers have transformed 10 restaurants in the Western Cape, each restaurant closed for three days for an instant make-over in its interior design, its kitchen design, its menu, and in some instances, its name.
The work that has gone into each restaurant transformation has been documented in ten ‘In die Sop: Restaurant Evolusie’ episodes on kykNET, with an eleventh episode summarising the series, and Chef Bertus revisiting some of the restaurants, to check on their progress.
The idea for the restaurant transformation series came from the realisation that it was not only the Lockdown that affected restaurants, but that their interior design, menu, and even restaurant name can impede their success!
We have posted about the transformation of Red Tin Roof in Riebeek-Kasteel and Evita se Perron in Darling, the first two episodes :
We have also detailed the transformation of Readers Restaurant in Tulbagh and Backyard Café (now Jaart) in Wellington, the third and fourth episodes:
In this post I summarise the transformation of the remaining six restaurants:
1. Made in Stanford
One of the most controversial transformations was that of Made in Stanford, a community project in the Overberg village of Stanford, just beyond Hermanus. Bertus’ team decided to change the name of the restaurant to The Collective – Made in Stanford.
The exterior is Mondrian-inspired, with coloured crates, the Dutch co-owner Harry being shocked initially, saying it looked a little like Mondrian, and a little like his Dutch heritage. Partners Harry Poortman and Steyn Jacobs expressed concern about the reaction of the community to the modernity of their collective shop and restaurant make-over. After he got over his shock, Harry said that he loved the couches and chairs. The kitchen was opened up, new kitchen equipment was added, the new open-plan design making everything in the restaurant visible from the kitchen.
The new menu is cooked by Tannie Mienie, using a javell maker for some dishes. Trout salad is served. She received training in making the new menu dishes. Harry and Steyn received a demo in filleting trout, and how to use every bit of the trout, in a salad, in tartare, and in fish cakes.
Oddly the Facebook page of this restaurant has not been changed to its new name, and there is no post about the restaurant transformation on its page.
2. Cup of Cake in Saldanha
Cup of Cake is a coffee shop owned by two sisters Kat and Sanet in Saldanha. When they entered the transformed bakery and coffee shop, Sanet started to cry, seeing the changes. She said it would take time to comprehend the change and new look. But they fell in love with the space.
A dominant turquoise wall was transformed into wall art in soft pastel colours, these colours picked up in a plastic ribbon curtain entering what is now the cake icing area, a special space created for Sanet.
The kitchen and stock store were decluttered, with new equipment added, to make better use of the spaces ergonomically.
3. River Breeze outside Witsand
The River Breeze Restaurant was renamed Marsanne’s Restaurant, after the owner of the restaurant. The restaurant space was opened up, to allow one to have an eye over the whole restaurant from the bar.
The kitchen is open plan now, easier to move around in, neat and organised, with a charcoal Braai. The Bar was moved. New wallpaper and lighting were installed. The tables have new napkins and table cloths.
It was given full marks and described as ‘baie mooi’ by the owners. No reference is made to changes to the menu.
4. Arugula Bistro & Bread in Welgemoed, Cape Town
Arugula Bistro was renamed Bistrot Louis by Chef Bertus and his team. It is the only restaurant transformation that was done in Cape Town, in the Northern Suburbs area of Welgemoed.
The bar counter was neatened, with freshly baked breads displayed on the counter. A new Grill was added in the kitchen, and was decluttered. New tile-design wallpaper was added, and new furniture and lighting was installed.
A French-inspired menu was designed to offer quick wholesome meals at good value, including a chicken and chasseur sauce, Crème Caramel, salted hake beignets, charcuterie, and French onion soup.
Chef Bertus spent time in the kitchen with Louis, showing him how to fillet a chicken, and to use all of its parts, for chicken breasts, stock, and Schmalz. Louis expressed what an honour it is to have worked with Chef Bertus.
5. Die Herehuis in Malmesbury
Owner Sumayne said that Lockdown was very tough on her and her business. Her staff are part of her family. Originally Chef Bertus and his team felt the challenge was too big for them, not being able to transform the restaurant in the three days. Sumayne contacted a friend, and he helped her with basic things like fixing her electrical connections and other basics. Then she was ready for the ‘In die Sop’ team. Chef Bertus felt that the restaurant had not been given any love in a long time.
The menu was pages long, and was reduced to one page.
Chef Bertus demonstrated the filleting of sole to Sumayne.
Sumayne saw the restaurant transformation as the start of something new. Antique plates and cutlery were used. She loved the lighting. The kitchen was made open plan. Her mother’s antique plates decorated the walls. She was emotional, and cried in happiness. Chef Bertus said that this transformation was the biggest challenge in the series.
6. Hook, Line, and Sinker In Pringle Bay
Hook, Line & Sinker is a well known restaurant in Pringle Bay, on the road to Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond
Owner Jacqi Gerstner loved her kitchen, and was happy with the the transformation. What she loved most was the restaurant exterior being repainted blue. She was speechless, and kept saying she is happy and that the transformation is stunning. She said it would take her some time to comprehend all the changes. Even her dog George now has a dedicated space.
No information was provided in the summary about changes to the menu. Chef Bertus demonstrated filleting a Cape Bream, prepared simply on the new coal grill in the kitchen. Chef Bertus praised Jacqi for being eager to learn. He uses fine salt at the beginning to prepare fish, adding salt flakes at the end, and showed Jacqi how to make a fish head, telling her how good it tastes.
A final 11th episode summarises a revisit to the ten restaurants. Chef Bertus’ transformed restaurants appeared to have focused on the following:
- Opening up restaurants, making kitchens open-plan
- Better placement of equipment in the kitchen, working on the ergonomics of movement in the space
- Coal-fire Grill cooking
- Decluttering everything, and throwing away chipped crockery and glasses, and bent cutlery.
- Simplifying and reducing menus to one page, and redesigning them to reflect the location or speciality of the area in which the restaurant is located
Short summary excerpts of each episode can be seen on YouTube.
Thank you Ian du Toit for some of the photographs.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whaletalesblog.com www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide