By Mihlali Mpendu
The Red Café has been one of Makhanda’s cornerstone restaurants since 1997. Initially established at 127 High Street as the Blue Room, the restaurant was the place where people could sit down and enjoy a delicious meal or grab a quick cup of coffee.
Fast forward almost three decades later, the Blue Room has removed its blues and become a warm and loving place, renamed the Red Café after its third owner took charge.
Louise Boy, the fourth owner and the first woman to inherit the evergreen restaurant, rose to the challenge of owning the Red Café in 2011 and has not looked back for the past 12 years.
The Red Café was one of the Makhanda businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, which saw many similar businesses closing down.
“People started eating more at home, so we were really struggling,” Boy said. But students and others were the first to begin eating out and supporting the restaurant economy of Makhanda after the lockdown lifted, and elders soon followed.
When asked how the Red Café has survived and thrived for so long, even through challenging and testing times, Boy replied: “it was because of our customers’ support and our staff’s sacrifices”.
She also believes that finding lessons in setbacks and enjoying what you do is another reason for the longevity of the warm cafe.
“The beauty of doing what I do is that I meet new people and people I already know in the same place and provide a comforting experience for them,” Boy told Grocott’s Mail.