RESTAURATEURS Dameon van Antwerpen and Tabita Weyer have already established a firm following with their Friendly Stranger eatery in Port Elizabeth despite being open for only several weeks.
The Baakens Valley venue – where you will also find a showcase of art – may be a compact affair, but it exudes a trendy character and airiness with its fresh cafe ambience.
Dameon – who has a special surprise for a Star Wars character should he ever drop in for a bite – explains more about the enterprise . . .
What first attracted you to a career in the catering and food trade?
A local blogger put a good perspective on our approach. Like Lance Armstrong’s book It’s Not About the Bike, our approach has been very similar. Don’t get us wrong, we do put a lot of effort into the quality of the products – as we produce tremendous amounts – is important as it is.
For us it’s more an authentic, from-the-heart approach in seeing or providing a stepping stone for the PE creative arts and cafe culture to emerge and grow.
For Tabita, cooking for family and friends has always been important and putting wholesome good food out brings joy to her heart. And I have a love for coffee and the creative arts. The pairing of these two seemed suited. How did you go about training? Neither of us have formal training in the industry other than our hands-on experience in the trade.
But Shaun from Sumatran coffee and our coffee supplier work very hard and very closely with us to ensure our coffee is of the greatest standard.
Our chef also has loads of experience under his belt. He has trained and studied at the South African Chefs’ Academy.
Tabita studied at the infamous “kitchen at home” which proves itself very favourably among those who visit our selection of baked treats!
What aspects of the job do you enjoy the most?
Social interaction and seeing satisfaction among our customers. Above all, seeing an artist succeed in showcasing their talents.
Please tell us a little bit about what patrons can expect at Friendly Stranger.
Friendly, in a few words, is a creative space which offers good food, coffee, art and entertainment in a small homely hands on kind of way.
Any specialities or unique items on the menu?
Our lamb flat breads have been a firm favourite. They sell like there is no tomorrow. But for those looking for something a little more off the mark, we do have a fish burger. These are served on black squid rolls and finished with deep fried calamari and house-made tartar sauce.
If you could choose to prepare a meal for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you serve?
Tabita would choose to serve a hearty meal to a family. I’d probably choose to serve some form of glowin-the-dark jelly to Darth Vader! We complement each other that way.
What was your scariest or weirdest or funniest moment in the trade?
Friendly Stranger itself was scary move for us. We’ve realised that there is never a dull moment in the trade. But the response has been very positive. We were overwhelmed. When you are at home relaxing, what is your favourite meal?
Generally, by the time any of us get home, we tend to resort to the good old peanut butter and banana toast or rusks. A firm favourite.
If you could dine at any restaurant in South Africa tonight, which would you choose and why? (Apart from your own!)
We both love The Edge at Hogsback – awesome views and a pleasant homely experience!
If you had not been into the restaurant trade, what career would you have chosen?
Tabita would probably work with children in creative arts and I would be in fashion design. We don’t regret choosing to follow the dream we now have before us.
What is one of your simpler, mouth-watering creations?
- Love bites deep in finale
- Fushin fare rare delight as sushi spreads to the suburbs