A chance Facebook post about Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro earlier yesterday took me to the entertainment venue last night, and I was delighted to meet entertainment legend and director/producer Richard Loring, who is the co-owner with Roland Seidel, who had owned Seidelberg wine estate.
A double story venue which previously housed Adega restaurant, next door to the 7-Eleven on Main Road Sea Point, will become a 200-seater ‘Supper Stage’ upstairs, with entry via Glengariff Road (the new striking red and white striped awning is a promise of great things to come). Richard has redone the paving outside the entrance, and received permission to plant a garden on the pavement, to lift the tone of the neighbourhood. Even 7-Eleven owner Elia Hadjidakis has promised Richard and Roland that this branch will become their flagship, to match the quality of the new entertainment venue. Upstairs the massive space will sport Richard’s white piano, and some of the guests will see Robben Island from there. Upstairs too will be Richard’s Bar, which will be decorated with all Richard’s memorabilia spanning the past 50 years, the anniversary being celebrated later this year. All the walls will be covered with wallpaper of Cape Town images, some of Adderley Street in black and white, and others in colour, such as of Bo-Kaap. On Main Road a new red canopy with see-through ‘windows’ protected the Bistro deck downstairs from the strong southeaster wind.
Richard’s wife, former model Jeanette Stuart, is in Johannesburg, packing up their house there for the move to Cape Town. Richard owned a house in Camps Bay for many years, but has now bought a house in Gordon’s Bay. In Johannesburg Richard ran the Sound Stage Theatre and dinner venue for 18 years, having put on 40 productions in this period. After selling the theatre he worked for the 1100-seater Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City as theatre show consultant before moving to Cape Town in November.
I asked how Richard and Roland had met. ’African Footprint’ promoter Wolfgang Bocksch introduced Richard to Roland about eight years ago, and they talked loosely then about doing a theatre in Paarl. Nothing came of this, but Roland did make an African Footprint wine to be sold at the ‘African Footprint’ shows. After an illness, which necessitated the sale of Seidelberg to Fairview last year, Roland contacted Richard, and they rekindled their idea of a show, choosing Sea Point. Originally the idea was to get Adega to provide the food service, but increasingly Richard and Roland realised that they should be in control of this side of their business too. Richard and Roland have developed the story for ‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, with Basil Appollis writing the script for the show. They are busy casting for the show, which will be specifically aimed at tourists, but also at locals. The cost of the show and buffet dinner should be around R400. The show will be a fun mix of dance, humour, pathos, and history, a celebration of what Cape Town is all about, Richard said. Richard sees their venture making a contribution to tourism, in informing tourists about the history of the Cape, in allowing the employment of about 40 staff members to run the operation, and the development of new local entertainment talent. While we were chatting Richard was keeping an eye on his staff all the time, giving them feedback about do’s and don’ts.
The tables on the deck outside have grey tops, and the chairs are grey plastic. There are no table cloths but there are material serviettes. Each table has a red candle in a glass, a salt and pepper grinder, and Willowcreek decorated olive oil and balsamic vinegars jars were brought to the table. Cutlery is ordinary. Small self-baked seed loaf slices were brought to the table.
It’s early days for Richard’s Bistro, the menu perhaps being too extensive and unfocused, and the service needing fine-tuning. When Richard is there, things will run more smoothly, but no manager seemed to be in charge. The opening of the new theatre/dinner venue in May is an exciting new tourism attraction for Cape Town, and can be expected to be a slick show.
POSTSCRIPT 31/3: I returned to Richard’s Bistro for breakfast, and had a long chat with co-owner Roland Seidel. Attractive murals have been added to the walls on the deck downstairs, giving a strong message of the music that will be performed upstairs from May onwards. The Italian Eggs Benedict cost R47,00, and included spinach.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage