Brendon and Jason are born and bred Durban boys who've become familiar faces on the food scene. Their substantial following and packed-out venues bear testimony to warm personalities and quality establishments.
Brendon was a partner at the iconic Bean Bag Bohemia for almost 20 years and Jason had the successful Circus Circus chain, as well as the popular Ebb & Flo Cafe, which they co-own at Gateway.
A couple of years ago, they had both decided to take a short break from the industry and were "restaurantless", as Brendon points out. "I was on my way to Australia when Jason called me. He said he'd found a space. I remember there was only the pizza oven and, of course, the fantastic view. I said, 'I think it's a fantastic idea and it's going to be a wonderful restaurant. Don't do anything until I get back.' He put the tables out and it was all ready to go by the time I got back."
Being so far from the scene on Florida Road or Umhlanga, they had little idea who their customers would be. "We focused on what people were looking for coming from South Beach. We expected people to come into the little shop looking for a good hot dog, burger or pizza… Easy eating at the beach." Things have clearly evolved but they've stayed true to their fresh, rustic offering on an impressively tight menu.
What is your earliest memory of food? My family is very focused on everyday cooking and healthy eating. I'd hang around with mom in the kitchen, watch her bake biscuits and understand the simple principles of how to put recipes together.
Down by the seaside, you've obviously added fish to the menu? Once the destination dining had really started to work for us and our numbers were increasing, we started looking at a slightly different model to what we'd originally anticipated, as we now had people coming to the beach looking for more than just hot dogs. It is South Beach, so we started expanding the seafood offering and making everything fresh. The fresh mussels come in from the West Coast, straight into the pans. The fish comes from the Victoria Street Market, which is a great local connection around the corner and is open seven days a week. We get it straight from the market to the table and that's part of what our restaurant focus is.
And that's what you've made for us? I've prepared some really simple fish — one of our high-selling items. It's rubbed with sea salt, oregano, a bit of parsley and lemon juice and we crisp it up in the pizza oven and serve with either salad or chips. It's dead easy to do at home in the oven or on the braai. Today I've prepared a red roman, because that's what was available at the market this morning, but I prefer cooking carpenters. I like the shape and they're meatier. Those are the two main fish we are able to sell here.
Word of your hot dogs travels far and wide… The hot dogs are part of our original offering. We took the basic hot dog and gave it a little bit more style. We make our own piccalilli, which flavours it up quite a lot, and we've chosen a really nice artisanal Vienna that's lightly smoked.