The Brass Bell, situated on the coastal side of the Kalk Bay Station, is a must for anyone visiting Cape Town.
Not only does the location offer unrivalled sea views, but in some parts, you sit right in the way of sea spray with a tidal pool on your lap.
Land the right spot and you can also check all the surfers tearing it up – lekker.
Their service isn’t bad, their food is pretty legit, and every now and then you might find yourself partying it up on the Bikini Deck dance floor.
Over the years, however, the Kalk Bay icon has slowly expanded to accommodate more and more patrons over the summer months. While their latest updates include an additional top deck and refurbished interiors (which are awful, by the way), there’s one that was done a few years back that has had many locals pretty pissed.
And it is an issue that has been going on ever since – evident from posts back in the day such as THESE.
As you walk through the subway to enter the Bell, you will find yourself staring at what is a very awkward outside section. As the Brass Bell is not allowed to build anything stable, they added a deck space that borders a public beach on either side.
In the middle is a splash pool for kids, while the tidal pools along the edge of the Bell are generally more for the grown ups.
However, Kalk Bay residents and business owners are claiming that the Brass Bell are doing whatever they can to keep these areas for patrons of the restaurant.
Yesterday, locals “lambasted the restaurant… for blocking mainly Cape Flats families from accessing the beach over the festive season,” explains iol.
Talking exclusively to the Cape Times on Tuesday, they claim that since 2012, the Brass Bell has gradually made access to the beach and public toilets more difficult.
They claim the restaurant went as far as hiring a bouncer in 2013 to control access. After an outcry, the bouncer was swiftly removed, they allege.
Yet years later things are no different:
On New Year’s Day, beachgoers were left fuming that people, mainly from the Cape Flats, had been blocked from accessing a public toilet and tidal pool near the restaurant.
The gate was later reopened by law enforcement, with authorities saying control over the gate rested with Kalk Bay harbour master Shafiek Ebrahiem.
While management had initially refuted claims they had control over the gate, residents say they were told to ask Brass Bell management for a key to access it.
Stever Herbert, a resident, explained the gate had been locked since Christmas Day:
When I went down on January 1, I found the gate locked and two Metro Police officers on the other (harbour) side.
They told me the manager had the key and would open it for me. The manager could not be found.
When I asked why the gate was locked I was told it was to control access and alcohol being brought on to the beach.
I said that surely the gate should be open and that the two of them could then still control anyone coming through. Obviously any family laden with kids, blankets, food etc etc would be intimidated and turn back.
The gate was still locked on January 3.
While there was extended effort this year to keep beachgoers safe, the gate being closed caused much unhappiness.
You have to see it through the eyes of one of the families from Bonteheuwel, out for the day with their whole family, with their blankets, they come down the stairs, come up the other side, and here’s this wall of white people, sitting having breakfast, and it is intimidating.
And then there’s a gate that’s locked.
According to iol, local business owner Antonio Burger said he felt the restaurant was trying to prevent its patrons from being in such close proximity to the people from the Cape Flats.
They will never stop someone who knows their rights. They will stop someone that feels intimidated that will just walk away and move on. They know it works. They make the underprivileged people feel uncomfortable.
Mary-Ann Naidoo explained:
The first and the second (of January) are two days in the entire year that people from Bonteheuwel, Manenberg… have time with their families. It is the pilgrimage to the one traditional beach which they feel they belong to.
People have stopped coming to the beach because they felt unwelcome.
So what did Tony White, the owner of the establishment for 36 years, have to say?
Brass Bell is merely a tenant. Please look to the landlord, Prasa for comment.
I must say everybody that I spoke to was amazed that the closing of the gate by the Harbour Master for about two hours, could have made front page, headline news, which was also false, amidst the carnage on our roads, the drowning in Kalk Bay Harbour and the drowning of two small children under the bridge in Muizenberg.
How about some of the good news? For instance: there were almost no incidents, unlike in previous years, due to the strong presence of the police on the Harbour Beach and the preventative action taken by the Harbour Master.
Large amounts of alcohol were confiscated and the police presence prevented unruly behaviour. This enabled families with children to enjoy a pleasant day on the beach, because of the controls implemented. Perhaps the Cape Times needs to adopt a more balanced approach.
When asked again, he said:
I think everything was explained in your front page headline article wherein it was detailed that the gate was closed at the request of the Harbour Master and with the full support of the City of Cape Town. The Brass Bell was not involved.
However, just like Clarkes, bad news and reviews like this will hardly make a dent in their operations.
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