Bo-Kaap business owners question street dining experience

The corner of Rose and Wale Streets is always busy.

Bo-Kaap business owners are excited about the upcoming street dining festival taking place this Saturday but have reservations about the preparations by the City of Cape Town.

The street closure event will take place between noon and 8pm.

According to the business owners they were approached within the last six weeks by members of the City about the dining experience, but they remain optimistic that it will benefit the community.

“I’m not sure what to expect but I hope there will be lots of visitors so that the businesses can benefit. I’m happy that it’s allowing the smaller business, and those working from home, to be able to set up their stalls, their products, and sell their stuff,” said Hakeem Ahmed, director at Atlas trading.

“I do think the planning is poor, there’s no advertising here by us (in front of the shop) and we don’t have any content to advertise. We were told the roads will be closed and this is the event that’s going to happen,” he added.

“We are expecting people to support us so let’s hope that happens, and that it’s not too cold. We were informed of this about three weeks ago. I know the City is arranging it so they can assist the businesses and the expectation is to boost the businesses,” said Yusuf Abed, manager of Against The Grain coffee shop.

Wardia Cornelius runs a takeaway business on the corner of Wale and Rose Street and says she saw City officials walking the streets six weeks ago and enquired about their presence.

“They told me about the opportunity to close the streets and open it up for other vendors. I had to fill in a few forms as they checked whether we are compliant. I hope tourists and locals attend this event as the lockdown affected us badly,” said Ms Cornelius.

Ms Cornelius adds that she will be prepared regardless of the weather conditions as she has been a street trader for 22 years.

“We have no idea what to expect, it’s our first time being part of this as we are a relatively new business to the area. I’m sure it will be fun as this is a great community to be part of,” said Noel Ulyate, manager of Carpe Diem, a retail store, and Love of Stuff, a coffee shop.

Nadeer Adam, manager of Bo-Kaap Deli, raised concerns about security but hopes that the businesses will be productive on the day.

“I’m hoping it will be busy, it’s been a rough couple of months and hopefully it will bring more people and that it will be a good experience for the people of Bo-Kaap,” Mr Adam said.

Francine Higham, the ward councillor for ward 77, says that the event is aimed at families with kids’ activities, local entertainment and traditional cuisine on offer.

“Like many of the City of Cape Town’s street dining events, the Bo-Kaap open-air dining experience is aimed at revitalising local businesses and giving a boost to traders who have been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pedestrianisation of our streets is also a great opportunity for the community and visitors to the area to get out and safely enjoy our public spaces,” said Ms Higham.

Rose Street will be closed off to motorists on Saturday.

The three main closures are located at:

· Buitengracht and Wale

· Yusuf Drive and Bantam

· Longmarket and Rose Street

Upper Bo-Kaap residents access / exit via Yusuf Drive to Astana Street to exit via Pentz towards Buitengracht Street.