In less than a week after the closure of Viande Restaurant, owned by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, in a space he leased at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl, Chef Kevin Grobler announced on Instagram that he is opening a new restaurant at the Hotel, and has been posting ads for new staff. The new restaurant will become The Restaurant at Grande Roche, and will open next month.
On 8 October Chef Pete announced on Facebook and Instagram the closure of his Viande restaurant, after operating it for just over a year :
‘It is with enormous regret that we must announce the closing of Viande Restaurant at the Grande Roche Hotel.
We had only been open for 9 months prior to the national lockdown being thrust upon us and were simply unable to survive the 6 months without trading.
We would like to thank our fabulous & dedicated staff for all their hard work.
Thank you to all of our customers and suppliers that have supported us, we look forward to re-engaging with you in our future endeavors.
The Grande Roche will continue to be an iconic landmark in the hospitality industry, but unfortunately we will no longer be a part of that journey’.
I wrote to Chef Pete, to try and understand how a new Operator could be opening at the Grande Roche so quickly, after he had just announced the closure of Viande. This was his diplomatic reply, echoing his original Social Media post:
‘Hey Chris – I decide to close because I couldn’t afford to keep Viande open. 6 months of lock down wiped out whatever reserves I had. I don’t believe we have much of a summer ahead of us, without international tourists and I simply don’t have the resources to keep paying staff & overheads with an empty restaurant. I notified the owners of my intentions at the end of August & they began looking for a replacement operator and have chosen Kevin.’
Chef Kevin has been unable to find his feet locally ever since he returned to the Cape from Nice, where he was Head Chef at JAN Restaurant, running the restaurant of Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen successfully for three years, helping to win and thereafter maintain the one star Michelin crowned restaurant kitchen. He started at Le Petit Manoir in Franschhoek in July 2018, where I had a most disappointing dinner, and our relationship came to an end when he swore at me. He moved to Delaire Graff Restaurant early last year, leaving in March 2020, and then went on his own during Lockdown, doing Food Deliveries under his Confined Foods brand.
Opening The Restaurant at Grande Roche is Chef Kevin’s third restaurant move in two years, and is his first own restaurant. I question how well he and his team can open a restaurant in such a short period of time, with new staff, and with no prior experience of owning and managing a restaurant!
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein