Spinach King, Lufefe Nomjana, started with a vision of healthy and affordable food for his community. His gluten-free spinach bread and other products are now in demand all over Cape Town and beyond, and he recently opened an eco-friendly cafe and bakery in Khayelitsha Mall.
In 2011, I first had the idea, when I was working as a volunteer in a community garden, of developing a range of products using the organic vegetables we were growing, which could be consumed daily to help people eat more healthily. The spinach bread was the most successful and I began baking and selling the loaves.
Why did you choose this area for your business?
I chose Khayelitsha because I live here and I wanted to do something for the community. There’s a problem with people eating unhealthily and there aren’t affordable healthy options. I wanted to offer a healthy alternative that is nutritious and tastes good.
How did you find your premises?
Our bakery and cafe are made out of two containers, one 6m and one 12m, converted in an eco-friendly way. We were lucky to receive support from sponsors Virgin Active and Kauai in setting up the containers.
We have designed them to be eco-friendly and are just installing a solar power system. We have planted vegetables and herbs all around and on top of the containers, which gives them a green permaculture aesthetic. People can sit outside and relax with their meal and also buy the spinach seedlings. We’re very well located and are a centre of attraction with our green containers; people want to know what we are doing.
Who are your neighbours?
We are at the entrance to Khayelitsha Mall, so all the usual mall stores and fast food chains are our competitors. We are on a mission to replace their fast-food with our healthy slow food and grow awareness of healthy, nutritious eating!
What are the rental prices like in this area?
The Khayelitsha Community Trust gave us the space and accommodated us with a special community development rate.
Our cafe is only two months old now, but already we have 30 to 50 daily walk-ins and 100 to 200 at weekends.
Do you have any expansion plans?
The University of Stellenbosch Business School has connected us to a production space in Stellenbosch and we are working on getting the equipment necessary to start a gluten-free production line there. We’re talking to RCL Foods to bring our products to Gauteng and Pretoria. Also exciting, our vision of reaching out to the world is coming alive. We’re working with a partner in Washington DC on developing a franchise there.
Do you operate online as well?
We’re just launching our new website: spinachking.co.za
What’s your most popular item?
Our two flagship products are our gluten-free spinach bread, sold through selected Spars, and our low-GI spinach bread.
073 095 0119
Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Patrick Heathcock