The Charlatan: Picture: Supplied
The Charlatan: Picture: Supplied

A year of Covid-19 in SA: Local restaurants that did not survive the pandemic

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Mar 5, 2021

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Today marks a year since the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed South Africa’s first case of Covid-19.

Last year we saw independently-owned eateries and restaurants closing their doors for good, unable to see the way forward financially after months of little to no income and a future with more questions than answers.

It’s no secret the restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic as social distancing regulations closed restaurants and bars in March.

Here are some of the restaurants that closed during the pandemic.

La Tête – Cape Town

Owners Giles and James Edwards released a statement on social media in January announcing the closure of the much-loved eatery.

They said despite great determination to see themselves through “this prohibitive time”, they could honestly say that they had tried every avenue – to no avail.

“Most of the team have been with us either from the beginning, or through many seasons. The issue of leaving our amazing team of 16 staff without employment weighs heavily on our hearts. Regretfully, it is out of our hands. I would like to thank each one of you for your hard work, skill and dedication which has kept our dream alive over the years. I could never have imagined such an abrupt end to it all. We would also like to thank each of our suppliers – farmers, growers, fishers, winemakers, distributors, who have delivered produce and wine with so much passion, time and time again. Without you, La Tête could not have been what it is,” they wrote.

Restaurant Mosaic – Pretoria

Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient Hotel in Pretoria is set to close this month after 15 years of service. The owner Chantel Dartnall announced this on social media in December.

When the award-winning chef and restaurateur opened the restaurant, she had the vision to introduce South Africa's culinary landscape to the finesse, flavour, and artistry that is unique to her style of botanical cuisine.

“My team and I have achieved all that we could have hoped for. We now leave behind a proud legacy as one of the top fine dining restaurants in South Africa, which has also established a solid international presence. Many patrons have arrived as strangers and have hugged me at the end of the evening as personal friends, confessing that they were emotionally touched by their experience at Restaurant Mosaic. I will miss the incredible guests and the support we have received from the start,” she said.

The Charlatan – Durban

A Durban cocktail bar famous for its signature and classic drinks with appetizers on Florida Road, The Charlatan Neighbourhood Cocktail Bar also decided to shut its doors. The bar, which was in a raw old industrial building with an open face brick façade, took pride in making sure that they brought something unique to the cocktail bar scene in Durban.

In a Facebook post, the team said that they would like to thank everyone who has supported them and made The Charlatan the special place that it was.

“To all our Charlatan family, we trust you are all keeping safe and healthy in these testing times. It’s with great sadness that we must bid you farewell and shut our doors. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over these past two years and made The Charlatan the special place that it was,” they said.

Café 1999 – Durban

Loved for its modern Mediterranean menu, the closure of this award-winning Musgrave restaurant shocked city diners. Owners Sean and Marcelle Roberts released a statement on social media in July announcing the sad news.

“We would like to inform you that Café 1999 will not be reopening in the space that's been its home for 21 years. Our lease has come to an end and we have decided to not re-sign under these strange and uncertain times. The name is still very much alive and we are looking at merging Café 1999 and Unity to create something new and fresh at the Unity premises,” read the post.

The Stack – Cape Town

Taking to social media in July, brasserie and bar The Stack, in Weltevreden Street, Gardens, broke the news of its closure.

"A sad day indeed. We must say goodbye and close our doors but the memories can’t be erased. We will miss you all!" the Gardens-based eatery posted on Instagram.

Exhibit A – Cape Town

“We’re very sorry to announce the permanent closure of @exhibit_a_by_syn. Unfortunately, the ANC and refusal to use our tax money for the good has led to us having to close our doors for good. We hope that they all sleep soundly in their stolen homes, with their expensive cars bought with stolen money. As for us, we’re done funding this circus of lies, blame, and denialism. It took a pandemic to wake us up to a very real and very old problem. To our loyal guests, we apologise and appreciate your support as always, but enough is enough. It’s been epic SA. Bye for now,” they wrote.

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