This week, restaurants and patrons alike are eagerly anticipating a return to sit-down dining (bound to strict social distancing as well as health and safety regulations, of course), but it’s become clear that for many of the restaurants located on wine estates, this is simply not an option. We spoke to representatives from Haute Cabrière and Rickety Bridge wine estates to learn more about the motivation behind their decision to keep their restaurant doors closed for the time being.
Most of us would count heading to the beautiful Franschhoek valley for a lazy lunch with friends as one of our favourite foodie experiences, but if that meal can’t be accompanied by a glass of your favourite wine, it admittedly just wouldn’t be the same. “Most people are not going to travel all the way to a wine estate only to have a fine meal with a Coke or sparkling water,” says Jan van Huyssteen, Rickety Bridge Winery’s MD.
He goes on to state that if they were perhaps located in the village and could rely on passing traffic, it would be a different matter. But with the current government ban on restaurants serving alcohol, it wouldn’t be viable to open up the kitchens of their restaurant, Paulina’s. “We are, however, installing an outdoor pizza oven and will soon be offering takeaway woodfired pizzas for patrons coming to collect wine purchases for off-site consumption,” he says.
At the iconic Haute Cabrière, the kitchen has been supplying baked goods for customers in town and a few locals who have been popping in for their daily bread. They will continue to do so, as well as offering its deli supplies. But the newly renovated restaurant will remain closed.
“Franschhoek simply doesn’t have a big enough local community to support the area’s restaurants,” says Nicholas van Wyk, the estate’s Destination Manager. “So without tourists or even locals who are free to travel, there’s simply not enough business for us.”
Van Huyssteen echoes these frustrations, saying that the confusing travel and accommodation restrictions spelt out by different sectors of government haven’t helped either.
This is a developing story. Eat Out is monitoring the situation very closely and will report on any updates and announcements as and when they are released by the government.