WORDS: LISA WITEPSKI IMAGES: SUPPLIED
Overseas, gin’s farewell from the drinks scene was hurried along by the emergence of tiki bars – establishments where island-style decor and rum-based drinks make for an endless summer. But, although local watering holes are steadily becoming more experimental, there’s been nothing to rival this international trend – until Alex Szabo, Caitlyn Barnard and Andrew Lombard joined forces to open Melville’s Tiny Tiki Bar in July.
Caitlyn explains the bar represents three years’ worth of dreaming finally come true, time she and Alex spent checking out possible venues and raising capital with their mobile bar, The Nomad. “We looked everywhere, from Parkhurst to Maboneng, but our spot in Melville just felt right.” This is largely because the trio couldn’t resist being part of Melville’s latest revival. “This is such an iconic neighbourhood. It has its ups and downs, but it always gets back on track,” she comments. The current wave is even more noteworthy, led as it is by a pack of young restaurateurs with fresh ideas and big plans. Young is the key word here – Caitlyn is just 26, and a true ambassador of the tiki lifestyle. “I love rum. It was the first drink I ever had,” she recalls.
Tiny Tiki Bar offers a space where Joburg, with its never-ending hustle and urban grit, feels far, far away. “We wanted to create an escape,” Caitlyn explains, noting that the bar’s OTT, kitsch design – think neon leis and palm tree wallpaper – was inspired by a trip she and Alex took to Bali last year. The bar’s menu bears signs of Bali, too: since beef is taboo here, pork is a staple. “This was the springboard for our all-day breakfast concept, because when you think of breakfast, you think of bacon.” Caitlyn adds that they opted to focus on the first meal of the day because they wanted the bar to become known for doing one thing especially well.
Of course, not everyone is a breakfast fiend – which is where the neighbouring Anti-social Social Club comes in. Part of Tiny Tiki’s space, it operates as a separate entity, although guests are able to select meals and cocktails o this menu, too. “The Anti-social Social Club came about because our space was a little too big to create the intimate feel we wanted, so we decided to split it in two,” Caitlyn explains. Whereas Tiny Tiki is all about the party, its neighbour is intended as a home from home, a sanctuary of sorts.
Summer, Melville is ready for you!