Swakopmund petitions against temporary pop-up restaurant

Eileen van der Schyff

Swakopmund’s restaurant fraternity and dozens of residents are petitioning against a so-called pop-up restaurant that will be operated on a beach area of an upmarket residential neighbourhood of the holiday town.

At least three petitions have reached the office of the Swakopmund Municipality’s CEO, Mr Alfeus Archie Benjamin. These include a petition from the HAN Coast Task Group, Residents of the area and a petition drawn up by a local attorney. These petitions criticize council’s resolution of 28 Octo-ber this year for three businesspeople known as MSSRS WHALE TALE “Seafood Shack” to operate this pop-up restaurant between 28 and 31 December. Despite MSSRS WHALE TALE paying a deposit of N$724 and having to fork out approximately N$11 500 for these four days, resi-dents have concerns:
∙ The prime question is council only allows this pop-up restaurant for the period, 28 – 31 December this year. However, in the same recommendation it seems council approved the operation of the pop-up restaurant for a period of 37 consecutive days.
∙ Residents are further concerned about noise pollution, littering, the smell that will be emanated from beach fires and the stench and general hygiene of seafood scraps
∙ The restaurant industries of Swakopmund’s main concerns are – the liquor licence, ablution facilities and taking their business away by under-cutting prices.

HAN Coastal Task Group’s concerns include Covid-19 safety, the 37 days (Council only approved four days, and echoes the concern it takes business away from existing restaurants. “In a public notice it states this pop-up restaurant will operate from 4 December – 9 January 2022. Contrary to this notice, council only approved the time of the pop-up restaurant for 4 days,” explained an angry resident. There seems to be much confusion about the time frame that was approved for the operation of this pop-up restaurant.
∙ Without implying that this pop-up restaurant is not complying to all laws and by-laws, the HAN Coastal Group says: “There seem to be growth of illegal establishments like self-catering and Airbnb just popping up without official registration. We do understand that it is a free market, but to a certain extent, local established businesses that have been present over time, also need to be protected.
∙ Increasing operating expenses and business expenses which include: Food handler’s annual checks, Fitness Certificates and Liquor Licence annual renewals and other important safety compliance costs in our operations such as Fire Life and Safety.

A question directed to the Municipality of Swakopmund remains unanswered as the Municipality CEO, Mr Alfeus Archie Benjamin is on leave. In a telephonic interview between the Namib Times and the owner of the pop-up restaurant, who has a background in event planning and restaurants, it was revealed that the decision of the restaurant stemmed from them losing their jobs because of the lockdowns. “We paid our deposit and rent in full to council and will only be operating temporary from 4 December to 9 January next year. Council showed excitement about the idea of a different concept.” The pop-up restaurant owner explained that restaurants in Swakopmund do not have the same dishes on their menus as the pop-up restaurant’s menu, further explaining they cater for the upper market and their prices are quite expensive. “We are aware there are individuals and restaurants who are against our idea, but competition is always good, and we do not have any intentions of taking away anyone else’s business or harming anyone. We placed a notice in the newspaper twice about a month ago.” It is in the view of this restaurant owner that new ideas and ventures should be given a fair chance.

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