It was a call from Nick, who handles Social Media for Haas Collective, an advertising agency, art and interior decor consultancy, and coffee shop, that motivated my colleague and I to return to the new Haas building on Buitenkant Street yesterday, to write this piece.
Haas became a firm favourite when it first opened more than three years ago on Rose Street, giving life and energy to this Bo-Kaap street, being a convenient stop with parking usually available and devoid of parking marshalls. It became a second office (even though wifi was always problematical, with changing passwords) and a welcome meeting place, all first-time visitors being impressed with the art-focused interior. The food was always secondary, prepared from a kitchen across the road in a rented building, adjacent to where the Haas advertising agency had its offices too, in addition to the upstairs offices. Service deteriorated over time, as the waiters became more arrogant and slack, jiving in the entrance section, talking noisily, and not proactively following up with the kitchen. Inge has been the only efficient manager on the coffee shop side of the business, but the staff do what they want to when she is not around. The young man who assists her has little customer interest, not acknowledging regular customers, and ignoring most others too. The waiters and barista looked so smart in their black hats when they opened initially, but only one waiter wore one yesterday. They certainly look hi-tech, with their Gaap tablets, on which they record the orders, which are sent through to the kitchen, but the service was no faster than it was before, and my order fell off the table(t)!
A shortage of space for the advertising agency led Haas owners Francois Irvine (right) and Glynn Venter to look for a new home for their budding businesses, and they found a beautiful building on Buitenkant Street, which was available for sale. The advertising agency Haas Communications Collective, which counts Spur as it dominant client, is run by Glynn and is located upstairs, while the large coffee shop dominates downstairs, the number of art objects available to buy having reduced compared to the previous Rose Street premises, the Haas Design Collective and Coffee Collective being run by Francois. A dark grey colour was used to paint the lovely yellow building, the same colour as was used in Rose Street. The logo is simply erected over the entrance door, without revealing what is inside. When I visited the new premises the first time about a month ago, it was very dark inside, being a dark grey day, making it difficult to see inside until one’s eyes had adjusted. The same grey colour has been used for the interior walls, too dark in my opinion, but it does make the space feel cooler. Here and there a large artwork breaks the all-round -greyness of the interior, as do the quirky Edison lights running down the length of the space, with fans with wooden blades. Over the counter there is another variation of the Edison lights, the bulbs being visible, as well as a set of larger lamp which look like they come off a 4×4, which previously had a red enamel coating but were changed by Francois in getting a layer of cement! The furniture is probably the same, but looks different, being re-arranged and mixed-and-matched more. There are two and three seater couches, which stood outside in the past, stools, school chairs, wingback chairs, and more uncomfortable metal Bistro chairs. Little seating circles have been created in the vast space. A large Boardroom with a long table can be closed off from the coffee shop.
The coffee at Haas is delicious, and they know how to make the perfect cappuccino (R19), from beans supplied by Strictly Coffee in Robertson, a boutique coffee roaster and wholesaler. There is a selection of cakes (yesterday there was a choice of chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, rusks, savoury and sweet muffins, as well as tasty unusual coconut jam swirls). I have had the odd breakfast at Haas, and loved their toast, grated cheese and honey combo, but have rarely had a meal. The menu looks worn, as if something spilt on it, but it is a quirky deign feature. They appear to have scaled down the meals offered, now offering baguettes (R50 – R58), a tapas platter (R68), and Bunny Chow (with vegetable and chicken curry, at R58 and R65, respectively), which is a cute connection to their name. Breakfast dishes range from R48 – R68 for cooked breakfasts. No wines or other alcoholic beverages are sold.
Francois was helpful in providing us with decor information, as he had orchestrated it, and even came to our assistance in bringing a credit card machine to take payment, as our waiter had lost contact with our table. The music is far less audible, having to cover such a large space now. Parking is not as difficult to find as one anticipated, especially in one of the side streets.
Haas Collective, 19 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 461-1812 www.haascollective.com Twitter@HaasCoffee Monday – Friday 7h00 – 17h00, Saturday and Sunday 8h00 – 15h00.