Beleaguered Swakop pop-up restaurant no longer happening

Opposition continued till the end
Otis Daniels_Finck
Swakopmund • [email protected]

Due to too much opposition from the public, a High Court order, and the Swakopmund municipal council allegedly not sticking to town planning rules, the Whale Tale Seafood Shack pop-up restaurant that aimed to add flavour to Swakopmund’s holiday wine-and-dine experience came to nought.

In a statement to the supporters of the intended venture, Seafood Shack entrepreneur Heidi Garbade officially announced that the pop-up would no longer be popping up.

“We have bad news for you; we are unable to open up this season due to circumstances beyond our control. We have tried our best, followed all the rules and necessary paperwork that the council required,” she stated.

The idea of pop-ups spawned in South Africa after people lost jobs and income and sought innovative ways to make a living.

She believed the idea will be accepted and flourish in Swakopmund during the holiday. Her intention was not to be competition but to add to the diversity – and only for a limited period.

After the council earlier this year had given the green light for the ‘shack’ to set up business, the first venue appointed was at the parking area near the ‘wreck’ surf spot.

This however immediately drew the ire of surrounding residents, who petitioned the council over issues of health, safety and social concerns, as well as claims that the facility would be unfair competition in difficult times – even after Whale Tale agreed to abide by the terms and conditions set out by the council to ensure their venture is above board.

The local council then moved the pop-up restaurant to Vogel Beach, but this soon resulted in an order by the High Court that the business stop operating, and that the council halt its consent for its operation. This followed after an application by surrounding residents, which accused the council of breaching its town planning regulations by allowing a commercial business to operate in a residential area.

The council followed its own legal counsel’s advice not to oppose the order and decided to relocate the restaurant to a suitable alternative venue.

A third location was offered to Garbade at Paddock Beach just south of the Platz am Meer waterfront. She rejected the offer, and so forfeited her only option to operate.

She argued that the area was sub-standard to her objectives of providing a quality unique wine and dine experience at affordable prices suitable for the whole family.

The area at the Paddock Beach, she claimed, was a centre for “boot parties” and intoxicated people. And besides that, according to her, more petitions and court orders would come her way, even if she set up there.

She requested better alternative areas but the council said that she could either take it or leave it.

“It defeats the point,” Garbade said. She pointed out that Whale Tale Seafood Shack pop-up restaurant was due to run for four weeks (4 December till 9 January), of which two weeks had already been wasted on issues she never asked for.

“We are now sitting with huge financial losses after being shuffled from pillar to post. It’s a pity and hampers business growth in Swakopmund. We are sorry that we had to let our staff go and that they had to spend their festive season without work and income. It’s certainly the opposite of what was wanted,” she concluded.