Melville and I, we go way back.
My mom, the SAFTA-award winning art director, had a restaurant named Hard Times in 4th avenue for twelve years. I spent many a happy childhood and teen year rambling about Melville, walking its streets and visiting its shops. I was always on foot and alone, because Melville was that kind of suburb. I was very much enamored of the Hemp Shop, and ice cream from Global Wraps, and sneaking into Roxy’s when I turned 16. My adopted Italian aunt Sim had a magnificent art gallery called The Art Room (now relocated to Parkhurst) But then, I moved away. We all did. Melville became that ex-friend who got a little too hard into drugs and bad habits, and started to look like the bathroom floor of a first year’s digs.
But then, the tide started to turn. As the Parks became too expensive for anyone who wasn’t already there in the 90s, eyes began to turn back to Melville. A few brave shopkeepers opened their doors, and shops that weren’t restaurants or bars began to thrive.
And now, enter 27 Boxes.
I spent a lovely winter’s Sunday there, drinking a magnificent R18(!) cappuccino from Rubi, sitting in the amphitheatre with friends , enjoying the warmth and blue skies of a classic Joburg day. The shops were adorable, the food delicious, and thankfully, not a goddamn hipster in sight.
You see, 27 Boxes is made from containers, a wonderful design that is incredibly industrial without being cold. For once, it’s not trying to be something out of Cape Town (I’m looking at you, Neighbourgoods and literally every fucking coffee shop that has opened in the last year) – it is so Joburg in its spirit and design that it brings great joy to my heart. No twee hipster aphorisms in sight. In fact, what might make it so hipster-repellent is that it is a family-friendly space, with a jungle gym and a lovely, sunny courtyard to sit in.
I am so delighted to see Melville regain her former glory. The property prices are already shooting up, which is always a great sign of a neighbourhood’s revival. I loved her as a child and a teen, and missed her as a young adult. Perhaps now, we can be great friends again.
Joburgers, let’s support this wonderful initiative. There’s cheap parking underneath, and it makes a great starting point for a stroll to all the new shops that are opening around it. Our friend is back, and she’s looking good.