Ewert and Claudia Venter will probably look back one day on 2019 with some amazement, not so much because of what happened but rather what didn’t happen.
Not only did they meet, fall in love, get engaged and then married; they also travelled down to the Cape twice, bought a business, then relocated to Hermanus from Boksburg, set up their new home and started running their own business – and now there’s a baby on the way that’s expected to make landfall on Christmas Day.
Assuming that their stress levels must be through the roof, I’m rather surprised to find them both looking very relaxed (serene, even, in the case of the expectant mother) as we chat in the sunny courtyard of Backstage Café & Grill. Previously known as Soul Café, this popular establishment on the traffic circle in Main Road behind Woolworths turned out to be just what they were looking for when they visited Hermanus in February.
“We had travelled to the Cape to investigate business opportunities and were in Hermanus to look at two other restaurants for sale, when we heard that the owner of Soul Café, Peter Kunz, was thinking of selling. When we saw Soul Café we immediately knew this was the place for us,” says Ewert. “Yes, live music was always part of the plan,” adds Claudia, “so we were really excited to find that part of the business already up and running here.”
Having concluded a deal with Peter that entailed a three-month handover period, the youngsters (Ewert is only 25 and Claudia 24) hightailed it back to Boksburg, where they had only three weeks to pack up and move house. By the end of March they were back and settling into their new roles as business owners in a new town, only taking a short break in May to celebrate their wedding back home with family and friends.
Far from feeling rushed off their feet, though, the couple say they are getting used to the leisurely pace of Hermanus. “It has been quite an adjustment as we are used to things happening much faster,” laughs Claudia, “especially when it comes to getting jobs done like signage or security gates. But here everything seems to happen in its own good time. I also have to keep reminding myself not to drive faster than the 60 km/h speed limit!”
Ewert and Claudia have taken over most of Soul Café’s staff, including Tanaka Kasema, who has been there for six years and now manages front of house. While Ewert looks after the finances, Claudia is in charge of the kitchen and administration. For now, the menu stays exactly the same, but Claudia says she will be adding new dishes in the near future, especially for vegans and vegetarians.
Backstage Café & Grill serves all-day breakfasts and a variety of gourmet burgers, flat-bread pizzas, toasted panini’s, soups, salads, steaks, curries and seafood, along with freshly-baked cakes, croissants and muffins, hot drinks and coffees, smoothies, shakes and freshly squeezed juices. The full bar includes craft beers and local wines from the Walker Bay area.
Music will continue to be the soul of Backstage Café, with something different offered every week night. Tuesday is ‘date night’, when a local husband-and-wife duo will perform on sax and piano; Wednesday is ‘open night’, when everyone with musical aspirations is invited to take part in a talent show; Thursday is ‘game night’; and on Friday evenings it’s the resident band, Rewind’s turn to entertain the patrons. Although the previous owner and band member, Peter Kunz, took up his new position as general manager of The Gorgeous George in Cape Town at the beginning of this month, he’ll still be returning to Hermanus every Friday to perform with Rewind at Backstage.
On Saturday evenings Backstage Café will continue to host guest performers, such as the upcoming show, ALICE – A Tribute to Smokie on 3 August, Tanja Storm on 31 August, and on Sundays they’ll offer a special breakfast menu and, once a month, a scrumptious Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
You’ll find Backstage Café & Grill at 181 Main Road, Hermanus. For up-to-date details on their special offers and events, keep an eye on their Facebook page, Backstage Café & Grill. The venue is also available for private functions. Call 028 313 2137 to book a table.
Tues, Wed & Thur: 11:00 – 16:00 & 18:00 – 21:00
Fri & Sat: 11:00 – 16:00 & 18:00 – late
Sun: 09:00 – 15:00