Monday, October 13, 2008

Who is killing Port Elizabeth's road houses?

Something Good is gone
Iceland might have had a financial meltdown but I'm far more worried about those closer to home.
Something Good roadhouse on the PE beachfront is gone, and so too, apparently, is Westees, both casualties of our financial hassles.
Whether or not you like roadhouse food and old-fashioned bakery pies, they were both institutions and icons of their kind.
As far as roadhouses went, Flat Rock was the first. It not only closed down, but the entire building was flattened. There is just a big gaping hole out there now, with a stunning view over the waves.
Then the Red Windmill closed, re-opening in a new incarnation that, frankly, just isn’t the same. It’s right next door to a KFC, for starters, so guess where the kids will want to go ... roadhouses never were big on toys and other goodies for kids.
Then there was the Casbah, which had the most fantastic slap chips. Then that shimmied away from its eastern roots and into the western suburbs where, although it tried to re-invent itself, I never heard of it again.
Now Something Good has closed, apparently several months ago, so Pollok beach visitors this summer will have to look elsewhere for their soft-serves and giant hamburgers (and do you remember their foot-long viennas?)
The latest in Port Elizabeth foodie places to flop, I heard only yesterday, is Westees bakery, which has gone bankrupt. Tragic. At least the Hancock Street outlet in North End is still running, but the other branches have gone. And boy, were their chocolate eclairs and pies among the best.
What are we to make of it? Is it a sign of South Africans changing their eating habits? One person I spoke to says we eat lighter, coffee-shop type fare now, rather than the greasy burgers, chips and shakes of old.
If that were so, I would be quite happy to see more coffee shops like Vovo Telo, Dessie’s and Cobblestone, places that are small, artisanal, personal and delicious.
Yes, people are cutting back on their spending, but I don't think they necessarily are eating more healthily. There is still a market for those slap chips and burgers, the problem in my mind is that the fast-food chains like Macdonalds, KFC, Steers and Nando’s have cornered it.
And guess which the beachfront has ... yup, chains.

* Please send in photographs you might like to post of these outlets.


Firefly said...

It is a great great pity that Something Good is now something of the past. Truely sad. I woder what the chances are for somebody to take it over and open it again. Even if it is under a different name.

sam said...

rats, it is a pity! I wanted one of their delicious soft serves recently and was very sad to see that it was closed. I tried to find my photos for you but can't remember where I filed them, we featured it on Port Elizabeth Daily photo a while ago, Ironically it must have been shortly before it closed.

markyi said...

Something gone is good. Well, I had the misfortune to work in a roadhouse in my youth and believe me, I have never eaten in one since. The filth was unbelievable. I remember the chef (for want of a better word) sweating profusly, wiping his brow, then rearranging the "slap" chips on the plate with his sweat encrusted fingers. How gross. Coffee OK, I think. Cassies in Cape Road also gone. Man, they had a mean Thai burger.

Jeanne said...

NO!! That's a chunk of my youth gone with it. I rememebr many nights leavbign varsity parties (sometimes with a group of friends, sometimes just with umm... somebody special!) and heading down to Something Good for a restorative burger, coffee or toasted sarmie. On sunny Saturday afternoons my friend Lorella and I woudl park near the Elizabeth Hotel and walk all the way to Something Good where we would reward ourselves with a caramel diped soft serve before walking back. And who could ever forget those insane lemon meringue pies with so much meringue that you could not shut the lid??

As for Westees, when I startied practising at the PE Bar at Oasim, Westees was always perfectly placed between the High Court and my office and I bought lunch (and dessert!) there all the time. How very sad to hear that these two PE institutions have gone. Is Le Bon still alive??

Peter said...

I blame it entirely on American cultural imperialism, globalism and the slavish adherence to emulating their unsustainable consumerist ideology.

The fact that KFC, an icon of their evil systematic destruction of traditional ways of life has taken over, along with other monochromic transnationals, sickens me.

Slap chips and a quarter chicken with as milkshake was an institution.

Vote for Obama!