Davenport Road: Conversations at Habesha Cafe

Last week the Glenwood Collective sat down with Biniam Misgun, friend, local resident, and co-owner of the wonderful Habesha Cafe on Davenport (Helen Joseph), to discuss the past, present, and future of Glenwood and the Davenport Road area. Here is a summary of that chat. Please contribute any thoughts you might have in the comments.


a

Q: How long has Habesha Cafe been here?

a

A: We opened in 2014.

a

Q: Why did you choose Glenwood/Davenport to open a business?

a

A: It was an accident actually. We were looking for a place to rent for Feven [The other co-owner of Habesha Cafe] so that she could sell Ethiopian crafts and goods. We looked into renting part of the building here, but we gradually took over the entire building, evolving from a shop, to a cafe, and now to the restaurant we are today. We both live in Glenwood and feel at home in the neighborhood, so it’s really a convenient location for us.

a

Q: How would you describe the types of customers who come here?

a

A: This has been the biggest surprise since opening. When we were planning the restaurant we expected to largely cater to the local Habesha [Ethiopians and Eritreans] community. However, we’ve found that they are generally pretty reluctant to come up this way to eat. So that didn’t work out the way we planned. However, we have had tremendous support from the local Glenwood community. I would say that the majority of our customers are ex-pats, as well as some dedicated local South Africans. Though the South Africans are slowly developing a taste for our food.

a

Q: How has Davenport Road changed since you opened?

a

A: Even since 2014 it has gotten significantly busier. They say we are the new Florida Road, and I definitely understand that description. A number of new bars have opened up and we’ve lost a few restaurants. This used to be largely a place to eat, but increasingly it has become a night life spot as well.¬† I think that¬†with the way the neighbourhood has changed, the people coming to Davenport are less interested in restaurants and more interested in pubs.

a

Q: What are the pros/cons of having a business in Glenwood?

a

A: A pro would definitely be the visibility. We get a lot of traffic on Davenport Road, so it’s easy for a business to be noticed. Also, Glenwood people are more adventurous eaters, interested in trying new things. So naturally, locals have been a major part of our clientele. As for cons, licensing is a big issue. There are so many businesses here already that it’s very difficult to get a business or liquor license. I think that the crime element has been blown out of proportion. This is generally a safe place to walk around, and as a local I feel very safe here.

a

Q: How would you like to see the area develop in the future?

a

A: More support from the municipality would be welcome. Particularly on the issue of parking- parking is a serious challenge on Davenport.

a

Q: What other types of businesses would you like to see in the area?
a

A: I would like to see less pubs and more diverse restaurants. The types of businesses that contribute to a more eclectic atmosphere. Personally, I’m excited about the new Afro’s opening up [on Davenport Road]. I want the road to be seen as a unique culinary spot.

a

Q: What are your thoughts about the proposed CIP [Community Improvement Precinct]?

a

A: I’m in favour of the CIP. I think it would be a good way to develop better coordination with the Municipality. I also think pedestrianising has a lot of advantages, as long as there is safe and secure parking nearby. That is certainly a valuable conversation to have in the future.

a

Q: Thank you!


Let’s keep the dialogue about the future of Davenport Road going. Contribute your thoughts in the comments. And if you’re not already a regular be sure to check out Habesha Cafe!

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=255533757954186&fref=ts

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *