DJC Summer

Enter Tashas, the emporium

SA’s mould-breaking café brand is evolving into an experiential space with a retail emporium.

We’re huge fans of Tashas cafes and have watched the brand’s evolution eagerly – from its beginning as a Joburg café with quality, fresh food to a group of nationwide cafes that imbues the essence of simple, fresh fare with sophisticated interiors and service to brag about. Under The Tashas Group banner, they’ve expanded into the UAE, added three brands to the stable (Avli by tashas, Flamingo Room by tashas and Galaxy Bar) and they’ve released two cookbooks – their second manifesting as a globally inspired coffee table tome with entertaining hacks to boot, featured here.

The latest from this ever-evolving icon of the food landscape is its leap from the confines of an eatery. Tashas Le Parc, Hyde Park’s cult eatery and meeting hangout has always taken its style cue from the bistros of Paris (each and every Tashas café has its own signature identity, based on its context and influences) and while the French city is still its muse, Le Parc has undergone an overhaul: of its interiors, its focus and its very expression, marking the group’s entry into a new breed of food and retail experience called by Tashas.

Expect the same classic, made to order, French-inspired dishes (albeit simply and freshly reimagined for Le Parc by Tashas) with a now theatrical and vibrant atmosphere and a retail offering bar none. Beyond founder Natasha Sideris’ constant guiding presence, the two leading lights in this change are Nicky Greig, Head Stylist for The Tashas Group and Verhaal, the Aussie based South African interior design duo who have been setting the tone for the group’s design and architecture for over a decade now.

So, what’s different, you ask?

A store is born

The brand’s newfound retail element is expressed in a sharply curated selection of local and imported delights (numbering more than 300), packed into baskets and stacked on new oak tables, shelves and a set of restored antique display units, all of them artfully styled. Here, we pawed over beautiful napery, cutlery, crockery, ceramics, delicious preserves and pantry goods, pastries and breads made daily on site (you can go and observe the process too) and some of the globe’s most coveted (and hard to access) coffee table books in a dedicated Assouline cabinet made by The Iron Banister.

Part of this dynamic retail experience also includes a stand laden with bunches of flowers to go and another, offering the brand’s own gelato. There’s a tower of toffee apples, a waffle station and a candy-floss machine, all of which serve to delight customers with a more interactive and fun experience.

The colour switch

The most visible change to the space is without doubt its invigorating colour palette. You’ll notice the warm hues, generous use of pink stucco and splashes of red, blue and yellow that are used throughout. It’s a markedly bolder and more whimsical approach to the décor than any other Tashas has ever seen. The status quo up till now has been a muted, neutral aesthetic that soothes and calms. Underfoot, new slate tiles have been laid in the same flagstone-style arrangement as a Parisian courtyard and the dining space is subtly surrounded by new jewel-toned stained-glass frames handmade by Live Light Stained Glass.

Textiles take centre stage

There’s a smart yet simple tool being used here to detach the space from its affronting shopping mall surrounds and that’s fabric. Large swathes of sail cloth have been draped overhead, softening the bright light from the skylight above as well as absorbing noise. Visually, the sails serve to cocoon the visitor and forge intimacy within the space, despite it being open on all sides. The upholstery has been completely overhauled too, with the aforementioned clash of animal, geometric and floral prints bringing life to the soft furnishings, including the café’s iconic green velvet, deep-buttoned sofa which has slipped into something a little more spirited.

Styling stakes

Nicky’s styling of the space as well as the stocking of its store component is key here. Their inspiration came in the form of the colourful papier-mâché fruit bowl created by artists David and Alexandra Ross, which set in motion an artistic and colourful expression for the new space. What Nicky has also done is to bring a casual and lived-in element to the styling that urges you to relax and linger. Far from a shop, or restaurant for that matter, you’ll find books stacked up on tables, fresh and dried flowers spilling out of beautiful vessels and lush potted plants which exist in abundance (real and thriving too, rather than plastic).

Beyond expanding the group’s offering, Le Parc by Tashas brings something newfangled to the South African market, a space where you can enjoy an outstanding meal in a beautiful environment and shop the collection too. The concept brings together local crafters, makers, designers and artisans as well as a select few international names too under one roof.

www.leparcbytashas.com

Words & production: Mila Crewe-Brown
Photography: supplied