Scheisse! Cape Town icon Paulaner Brauhaus closes
In what seems to be a tale of corporate politics and profits triumphing over craft beer, good sense and good times, the famous Paulaner Bräuhaus in Cape Towns’ V&A Waterfront has closed suddenly after 10 years of trade.
A brief announcement appeared on the restaurants’ Facebook page late last week notifying patrons and friends of yesterdays closing:
Dear Paulaner Patrons,
Please take note that as a result of our lease at the V&A Waterfront having come to an end, the week of 13 February will be the last week of trading by the Paulaner Bräuhaus. Our doors will be closing indefinitely on Sunday, 19 February 2012 at 22h00.
We invite you to make use of this opportunity to visit us for a last taste of our renowned and award-winning beers and popular food menu.
It is with great sadness that we, the management and staff of the Paulaner Bräuhaus have to bid you farewell.
We would like to thank all our loyal supporters over the years – it has been a pleasure serving you! PROST!
Paulaner Bräuhaus Management and Staff
While no official notification from the V&A has been made, Twitter and the Blogosphere are awash with messages of support, sadness and (supported) speculation. The generally accepted information is that the owners of the Bräuhaus , Hospitality Property Fund (HPF) were unable to accept a hefty increase in rental costs from the V&A Waterfront for the 5-year lease renewal period beginning 01 March. Suggestions are that the V&A were hoping to double the restaurant and brewery’s already high R250 000 monthly rental.
Half a million a month in rental costs is a large pill to swallow for any business. And whilst Paulaner does (did?) occupy a large area of the Clock Tower precinct – I think it laid claim to the largest restaurant by seats in the Southern Hemisphere at one stage? – any restaurateur facing that sort of monthly fixed cost before even brewing a single ale or buying in a load of bratwurst is going to be thinking very carefully about the long-term financial viability of their restaurant. Profit margins in the food service and sales industry are traditionally very narrow, and given the present economic situation, the fickleness of the tourism market to South Africa and the significant lack of disposal income amongst locals, I for one am not surprised by the decision to close. (At least on the assumption that the proposed rental amount is vaguely accurate.)
If this is the true reason behind the closure though, it is indeed a sad day for Cape Town in general and the V&A specifically. An iconic 10-year old eatery and craft brewery have gone. Personally I hope not for good. Let’s open we see the venue reopen in a more affordable but no less attractive location soon enough.
What I sincerely hope doesn’t happen is that the venture or ventures that move in the vacant space are hugely successful. Corporate greed is often tempered when served with a dose of humble pie.
To the Paulaner staff and management – Prost!
Image credits: PaulanerBräuhaus.com