Gardener’s Cottage celebrates 30 years

Staff celebrating the Gardener’s Cottage’s 30th anniversary.

If you ask the Bartys what the recipe to their restaurant’s 30-year success is, they would tell you simple but delicious food that is reasonably priced, loyal staff and, of course, a great location.

The Gardener’s Cottage, a southern suburbs’ institution, recently celebrated 30 years of being in business.

Started by the Barty family in 1993, the eatery at the Montebello Design Centre in Newlands is still in the family, supported by general manager Nikita Demblon and more than 25 staff.

Co-owner Jeremy Barty said he had challenged his mother, Lee Barty – who at the time was a teacher at Silwood Chef School – to open a restaurant with him. Jeremy eventually stepped back and his mom and dad continued to run the business together for 15 years, and later she ran the business alongside Ms Demblon.

“When my mom retired I stepped back in (although I never left) along with my brother. My mother, however, was the engine room of the business – everyone knew her.”

He said their business had always been family orientated and this extended not only to their customers but their staff.

“We believe in promoting from within and are committed to empowering and upskilling our staff. Many of our staff began working with us as cleaners or dishwashers. Two have developed into artisanal bakers, making all the artisan bread on the premises, others are waiters and chefs.”

Ms Demblon joined Gardener’s Cottage in 2015 as manager and was promoted to general manager in 2019. Having trained as a chef, Ms Demblon worked alongside Ms Barty, creating and executing dishes and eventually learning about all the different aspects of the business.

It was during Covid-19 that the two had to put new ideas together to help keep the business afloat and to support the staff.

“As restrictions lifted and changed, we adapted the business from running a deli set-up to selling frozen meals and coffee and eventually take-aways,” she said.

“We have customers who now live overseas but always pop in when they are in the country. We also have customers that religiously come every Saturday morning for breakfast. We believe our customers come back to the breakfast, bakery, the view, the atmosphere, the eggs Benedict, cake and the staff,” she said.

Bronwen Thompson started as a waiter at the restaurant in 2010, she became the head waiter in 2016 and was promoted to front-of-house management in 2018.

“I love my job and working for the Barty family – they have a good relationship with all their staff and their door is always open,” she said.

“This beautiful location, under the camphor tree, has witnessed celebrations, reconnections, friendships and family times over the years. It’s a happy place,” said Lee Barty.

Over the decades, the Gardener’s Cottage has achieved many food accolades, and this year the restaurant was included in The Inside Guide’s The 40 Best Breakfast Spots in Cape Town.

From October, the Gardener’s Cottage will open for evening trade. The kitchen will be open until 8.30pm and the chefs will be bringing back some of the menu items that originally put them on the map.

General manager Nikita Denblom and front-of-house manager Bronwen Thompson.
The Gardener’s Cottage at the Montebello Design Centre.