After months of delay, Constantia Nek restaurant reopened about three weeks ago following major renovations (“Iconic site ripe for a refresh,” Bulletin July 16, 2015). And from the support received so far it looks like they will soon need more parking.
At a media launch on the premises last week, shareholder in the Harbour House Group, Niall Smith said Heritage Western Cape had given the building an even higher grading then their heritage architect.
When the Bulletin first wrote about the renovation, South African Heritage Resources Agency’s Gregory Ontong said the restaurant is a provincial heritage site, which dated back to the 1920s and was a former national monument.
Plans for the renovation and upgrading of the property were originally submitted on July 29, 2015. Building commenced last year.
Speaking from the century-old eastern wing, which was once dead space in the building and is now Harbour House, a fine-dining restaurant, Mr Smith, who lives in Constantia, said he hopes it will be the icon it has been in the past.
“It’s a jewel with this scenery, the wine farms and close to Cape Town. We’ve tried to give it the life it once had. It was an important part of my parents’ generation and a hugely successful venue for 21st birthdays, weddings, Sunday lunch, dances and more. Then it fell off the map. The younger generation weren’t part of this,” he said.
Asked about their target market, Mr Smith said he and his partner, Michael Townsend, want to capture the tourism market what with a topless bus stop on their doorstep. They also want to offer more choice to the residents of Constantia and Hout Bay with fine dining and Spanish tapas.
Mr Smith said they have parking on site for approximately 50 cars outside the restaurant and 160 lower down on the property.
“There’s also public parking over the road, but this is not parking we recommend, as one has to cross a busy road. It is our intention to contact the City about this area. However, we wish to formulate a working plan before we do that. Certainly one of the suggested initiatives is to put lighting in which would light the area over the road as well as light the road itself. There has also been a suggestion to build ablution facilities over the road for the hikers. My understanding is that there were previously ablution facilities there but they were removed after they were used as accommodation by vagrants,” said Mr Smith.
He added that they would support plans to make the area across the road safer.
Mike Slayen, planning manager at Table Mountain National Park, said the City had allocated the car park to SANParks management, as part of the TMNP, since 1998. Regarding Mr Smith’s proposal, he said it would be preferable that they first engage with the restaurant to get all the details.
Owner of the Constantia Nek property, Alex Muller has leased it to the Harbour House Group for 15 years. He still lives onsite.
Hanging on the wall, is a picture of a Sunday buffet, and a letter of thanks from the secretary of Syfrets Staff Club dated November 12, 1977. Another document gives thanks to Alan Montgomery of Galvin & Sales, designer of the original menu of 1958, where grilled sole cost 8/6, and just in case you are too old to remember, 10/ equals R1.
On another menu: “May your evening be a memorable one, and Nekking a pleasure you’ll always enjoy”.