Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Casbah Roadhouse

On the way home from Vespers last night we stopped at the local Casbah Roadhouse to buy supper, to save the schlepp of having to cook so late.

I took this photo on my cell phone to record part of our way of life.

I was interested to see that in their main sign they managed to get “Pizzas” right, but they could not resist the greengrocer’s apostrophe (pea’s, carrot’s. cabbage’s) in the smaller signs advertising “Coke combo’s”.

There is a chain of Casbah roadhouses all over the country, and this one opened in about 1998. It wasn’t on a main road, so we wondered how long it would survive, but it still seems to attract a fair number of customers.

When they opened in 1998 their medium curry and rice cost R14.00, but now it is nearer R50.00. The quality seems to have remained consistent. The same can’t be said of their hamburgers, though. When they opened their hamburgers were excellent, and good value for money. At some point they seem to have switched from making their own to buying mass-produced hamburger patties from a central supplier, and probably frozen. They have a rubbery texture, and have far too much salt, which makes them not only unhealthy , but almost inedible. Their other stuff is still fairly good.

I looked to see if they had a web site, but though two other branches in Pretoria did, at Gezina and Annlin, there didn’t seem to be one for the Kilner Park branch. But they did tell the story of how it started.

On the 29th of January 1955, Smittys Teapot, in Brakpan, was taken over and transformed into Casbah Roadhouse by Sylvia Kongos and her brother Peter Theologo. The other brothers, Evangelo (Ponch), Russel (Lucky), Costa and Johnny soon joined them. The name “Casbah” was taken from the show Casablanca.

After gaining experience in that first family venture, the brothers went their separate ways and opened their own roadhouses.

Evangelo, or Ponch as he was known, started his roadhouse career in Brakpan, but then went on to open roadhouses in Alberton, Wemmer Pan, Johannesburg, Malvern, Benoni, Vereeniging, Krugersdorp and Port Elizabeth.

Ponch always believed in VFM. Value for money. Everything that you made for a customer you had to make as if you were making it for a friend.

Evangelo(Ponch) Theologo is known as the “King of Roadhouses”.

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