Beloved Jozi eatery Pablo is back in business

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Pablo Eggs Go Bar before it  closed in Melville
Pablo Eggs Go Bar before it closed in Melville
  • Popular eatery Pablo Eggs Go Bar is back to serving its signature dishes in Sandton - but it has a new name, simply Pablo.
  • Like many restaurants in South Africa, Pablo faced an uncertain future due to the impact of the lockdown.
  • Pablo made its comeback through a partnership with The Mint Hotel.

Johannesburg’s popular shakshuka joint, now known as Pablo, has made a comeback on Africa’s richest square mile, and owner Louis Roux promises that it still comes with a vibe.

The former Pablo Eggs Go Bar has made a return and found a new home in Sandton, less than a month after it shut its doors on the corner of Melville’s iconic 7th street in Johannesburg.

Like many restaurant owners in South Africa, Roux faced an uncertain future due to the impact of the lockdown, which resulted in fewer patrons, and the ban on the sale of alcohol.

"It wasn’t a nostalgic decision, it was a survival decision. I think if I were any more sentimental about it, I wouldn’t have made the call," he said, explaining his decision to close down the breakfast bar in Melville.

On Friday, Roux, who owns the restaurant with Leigh Hofmeyr-Roux, was in high spirits as he moved around the restaurant, chatting to staff.

The atmosphere was still laid back and the décor, which Roux said is still being worked on, was sleeker, but with its signature gold and teal from the previous restaurant.

Although it is 13 km from the place it called home for four years, an energetic Roux said Pablo still has a "vibe".

He explained, however, that the name of the restaurant had changed from Pablo Eggs Go Bar to Pablo.

He said he changed the name because it was originally meant to be, "like Marc by Marc Jacobs or Ramsey by Gordan Ramsey. And so it was going to be Pablo by Hello Pablo, which is our holding company."

But the branding ultimately became too confusing, so Roux settled on the simpler Pablo.

It has been a week since the restaurant opened, after entering into a partnership with the hotel, which came in the nick of time. 

"We were out R165 000, and about R150 000 with suppliers, and then to restock the shop would have been another R150 000," said Roux, adding that it would have cost them R500 000 upfront just to reopen.

He said he had been in talks about partnering with The Mint Hotel, which was under construction just before the lockdown and picked up again last month.

"So we made a very good economic deal, probably the best deal in South African restaurant history. I think it is the blueprint going forward, for future-proofing the hospitality industry," said Roux.

He said the partnership provides a great cushion against all the risk he had previously taken on with Hofmeyr-Roux.

Pablo will continue to serve its popular shakshuka, a one-pan egg and tomato dish, as well as other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.

Roux has big plans for his new space, which he says will soon be filled with people who will sit on the deck of the restaurant and enjoy the Sandton view or jump into the pool for a swim.
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