Village duo face fresh challenges


FOUNDERS of the Postmaster’s Village, John and Renate Cooper, bade farewell to their friends in Port Alfred last week.

They have been asked to run a guest house in Hermanus as the owner would like to take the chance to travel. Renate joked that this will be the first time in 35 years they will be employed by someone else.

They have a long history in the area, having opened a guest house on the Kap River in 1982. They ran this for a few years and in 1995 sold up and moved to Germany. For seven years they ran a guest house there before deciding to move back to South Africa. They did tour operating for two years and opened another guest house in Pretoria.

SO LONG, FAREWELL: John and Renate Cooper just before leaving for Hermanus to run a guesthouse there. They are well known in the area for starting the Postmaster’s Village and building it into what it is now Picture: CANDICE BRADFIELD

In 2006 they sold the guest house and moved to Port Alfred.

“We always said we’d come back to Port Alfred,” said John.

The Coopers bought the old post office and turned it into the Postmaster’s Village. They opened About Cheese at the back of the centre where they also had a wine garden.

They later moved to one of the shops in the front so they could get more foot traffic and C’est la vie! was born. C’est la vie! continued to sell their much loved cheese platters as well as a selection of organic wines, liqueurs and deli meats.

They sold this business to Karen Cambridge and opened Decadent which specialised in chocolate fondues and desserts. Decadent has since moved to the other side of the Postmaster’s Village and is now owned by Richard and Carol Skelton.

John, who is also an artist, has helped to promote and sell the work of other artists through The Passage of Art. They were also building at the same time as they were running their various shops at the Postmaster’s Village.

“It’s been a long and enjoyable journey. Now we have a new challenge in Hermanus,” said John.

John said while they will miss Port Alfred they will not miss the potholes. They will also miss their friends, but some have promised to visit them in Hermanus. John has another project lined up which is why they needed to move closer to Cape Town. He said Renate likes to keep moving and taking on new challenges.

“On the one hand I am very excited. We are going into something I am sure about doing,” she said.

However everything they own and have created is in Port Alfred where they lived for six years. She is sad to be leaving but also feels this is a new chapter for them. However they have promised to return on holiday.

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