• Ten years after opening the iconic Chefs Warehouse & Canteen on Cape Town’s Bree Street – the maverick restaurant that brought the irresistible blend of high quality global tapas, relaxed dining and urban swag to Cape Town — Liam Tomlin will bring back the beloved original along with two other new and dynamic concepts at 91 Bree Street, the current location of Tomlin’s three-story operation, The Bailey.

    The new Chefs Warehouse & Canteen will be joined by Merchant, a restaurant that heroes local producers, and Room 91, a chic indoor-outdoor events space for private and business functions. David Schneider, chef partner in Chefs Warehouse MAISON in Franschhoek and The Red Room at Belmond Mount Nelson, will be partnering with Tomlin in these three ventures.

    On 15 May, what is currently The Bailey will take an extended winter break, closing its current operations and commencing its transformation. It will be a complete renovation of the restaurants currently operating in the space: Chefs Warehouse at The Bailey, The Brasserie at The Bailey and The Old Bailey Lounge. The new restaurants and event space, will open at a date to be announced soon.

    “In this heritage building that we love and now know so well, on this street that means so much to us, we are creating completely new big city restaurants, that are for today and tomorrow,” says Tomlin. “They will be less formal, unique and exceptional destinations for diners to experience exciting, fresh and deep flavours as well as dishes prepared with locally produced ingredients they won’t find elsewhere. It’ll be fun, vibey, speak to food lovers of all ages and is our renewed commitment to the neighbourhood that feels like home.”

    Tomlin is Bullish on Cape Town CBD

    The change comes at a time of dynamic growth in Cape Town’s CBD, with large-scale residential and lifestyle developments currently underway, like the redevelopment of Christian Barnard Hospital into a multi-use redevelopment, with lifestyle-branded hotel, apartments, office space, retail space and parking. Also joining the ranks of completed CBD developments 16 on Bree, The Barracks and The Rubik will be The Fynbos, a 24-story residential building containing 689 apartments, set to open  in 2025. All of these will add significant foot traffic to the immediate area.

    “I have never been more excited and positive about Cape Town and the CBD, which is literally dotted with yellow construction cranes in every direction,” says Tomlin. “Since 2014, we’ve been here through it all: the early days on Bree Street when it first became the cool street, the explosive growth of First Thursdays, the proliferation of art galleries in the area, the rough days of Covid and now this great new energy that is propelling Cape Town into the future. We are 100% committed to being active partners in the growth of Bree Street as the cultural and culinary hub of the city.”

    From left to right_ Liam Tomlin, Adrian Hadlow and David Schneider

    New Concepts

    Tomlin is going back to basics with the revival of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen on the ground floor of the building, which will have much the same feeling as its original footprint diagonally across the street, both in terms of the fare — global tapas — and the edgy style that defined the original. It will be dark and full of urban energy, with the return of the communal long tables the original restaurant was known for, along with banquettes and smaller tables.

    One floor up will be Merchant, a restaurant that will champion local producers in fresh new ways. Explains David Schneider: “A merchant is someone who goes directly to the source to  procure the best and often the exclusive. In South Africa, we have incredible produce – from meat, game and seafood to vegetables, grains and fruits. At Merchant, we want to champion the best producers and their products, and make them the focal point of our offering.”

    Old school practises of zero waste, fermentation and preservation, and honouring the whole animal will be fully integrated into Merchant’s modus operandi.  “For example, we might showcase Merino lamb from Simondium, and have three dishes — loin, shoulder and sweetbread – running at the same time,” he explains. Merchant will offer regular Producer Dinners hosting these exceptional food producers, with multiple course menus featuring their own products, much like you would experience at a wine tasting.

    Says Schneider, who himself has significant experience in butchery: “There are few chefs who can butcher the meat that they cook and few butchers who can cook the meat that they butcher; we want to go back to basics here and work with our chefs to develop these skills to the highest professional level.”

    “Merchant is a dream come true for me,” adds Schneider, who can’t wait to turn the spotlight on the producers themselves.

    Room 91, on the top floor, is being reconfigured as a stylish, multi-purpose indoor-outdoor event space, available for any private or business occasion: from product launches and business conferences to musical performances and DJs to cocktail parties and weddings, and even film and commercial shoots. “We get so many requests for events, and with this reimagined space, we will be able to host just about anything, all with the high standards of food and service we take pride in consistently offering,” says Tomlin.

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