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Jozi Urban Market opens at Gold Reef City

“PLEASE GIVE me your feedback when you’re done,” ventured Allesha Chetty with a grin - a cross between knowing and teasing – as she watched me walking away from her stall, armed with a red-&-white striped box containing a slice of her signature chocolate Lindt cake, high up on the covered parking lot of the Gold Reef City Casino overlooking the M1 South motorway!

Jozi Urban Market opens at Gold Reef City

This scene unfolded on a balmy, Fall Sunday afternoon on the resort’s rooftop as I made my way to a dining area whilst the live soothing jazzy sounds of a recording artist going by the identity, Guru (real name Mpho Matlala) made moonwalk of my haste to indulge that born-with-and-will-die-by sweet tooth lure of mine!

Swell ambience that take is playing itself out at as far as welcomes go – for this is the south of the city of gold’s addition to the trend of “how was your weekend?” 

The inaugural Jozi Urban Market – is the brainchild of bubbly blonde go-getter event organizer, Tandi Potgieter. 

Walking the market floor’s length and breadth, adorned in a green, flowing full-length dress, she commanded an air reminiscent of the 1950’s poster depicting a lady defiantly flexing a bicep whilst registering a deadpan facial expression declaring: We Can Do It!  Only, Potgieter came across as the friendly and accommodative type, as she made sure that every stallholder’s comfortability level remained in the “business-is-good” region.

The new market’s take-off meets the objectives of an entity she happens to be a brand ambassador of named Southern Joburg Business and Tourism Forum – whose aim it is “to have people from the south staying in the south, and not have to travel too far out” from their neck of the hood. 

Their partnership with the entertainment group which Potgieter referred to as ‘one of the Jewels of the South’ was motivated by the venue’s accessibility to visitors from places such as Soweto, the north and from wherever – thereby creating a multi-cultural rendezvous where they could enjoy a lovely atmosphere of good food, craft beers, drinks, unique stalls and something for everybody on a Sunday!  

The casino’s management, she added, instantly bought into her proposal entailing the encouragement of people having to make a living – as well as the idea of giving another reason for the community to gather under their umbrella, and thus translating into an increase in visitors.

Simultaneously walking and working the parking space, the verdict became one of a balanced market offering a fair amount of wares ranging from leather handbags, home décor with functionality elements (such as the colourful enamel mugs depicting wildlife at the Lumela Afrika stall), curios (beaded necklaces and scarves), Millennials lifestyle wear, bottled olives, wine-tasting-and-sales station, craft beers on tap (flowing with ice-cold flavours such as pale ale, lager and raspberry Weiss), an oyster bar (offering a combo of oysters and a range of top-brand bubbly – in addition to tequila oyster shots), a bread stall (where you could purchase GMO-free artisan bread made from unbleached stone ground flour full of vitamins, enzymes, fibre & nutrients, from The Bread Guy), a cheesery (selling platters comprising of various cheeses, dried fruit and crackers), a gourmet coffee trailer, etc.

A substantial number of vendors dealing in multicultural cuisine, others’ presentations were unavoidably eye-catching, such as the eerily-named, Death Star Canteen – and whose stall décor of the menacing Darth Vader’s familiar mask didn’t appear to scare gourmands away!  With straight-out-of-the-movie payoff lines, although a tad tweaked, such as, “sabre the taste” and “may the sauce be with you” – those who dared to venture into the gastronomic dark side could be enticed in lamb sabre wraps setting one’s pocket back at R100 to Death Star Fried Ice Cream salivating for R40 a helping!

Touted as a social space considerate of the family environment touch, the market also has a Free Kids Zone with the requisite jumping castle from where issued forth incessant noise trademarked of carefreeness! 

Adjacent was located a photo booth wall displaying the Jozi Urban Market signage – from which attendees could have their snaps recorded.  Whilst all of this laid-back activity continued unfolding, groups of excitable kids followed a busker on stilts and elevated to the rooftop parking’s rafters.  The poor costume-clad fellow had to repeatedly bend down to give out balloons every time he had completed constructing one for the mites! 

Since the media invite didn’t only exact a toiling angle to my sojourn at the market, I then, like other jovial visitors, accorded myself a moment to step back and soak in the south of Joburg’s sun from a vantage point which had me pitying the vehicular traffic racing to-and-fro the freeway below – deeming that they knew not what they were missing skywards!  

To the accompaniment of Guru’s Wurlitzer electronic piano’s riffs, every bite and chew (or is it melt) of the death-by-chocolate indulgence from Chetty’s Bibbidi Bobbidi stall was further and further propelling my tastebuds into the zenith of Nirvana! 

Juxtaposed to the jazz dude, I admired how he cut a swanky figure, with a smoke pipe dangling from a corner of his mouth whilst he wreaked havoc on them ivories on a George Benson Love time Love standard his fingers had put their own appropriation to. 

The pianist wasn’t the only act providing live music at the market though.  A 10-piece marimba band a short while later had the visitors, as well as a sizable number of the casino’s staff, getting down to some real gumba beats! 

At the dining area, an off-duty colleague only identified as Thuli sat alongside her son, Owami, nursing cocktails and taking-in the atmosphere around. 

Describing herself as a regular market-goer -such as the Fourways one (with which she could draw an informed comparison) – she let spill of her objections of the debutante.  According to her, since the new venture claimed to cater for southern Joburgers (whose demography comprise of Sowetans and Indians in the main), it had to reflect in the kind of cuisine on offer – as well as the pricing. 

Mentioning provisions of offerings such as bunny chows and questioning the reason behind expecting visitors from this side of town to afford a slice of cake selling for R50 – the manageress sounded to have points Potgieter could well pause to ponder!  

With Potgieter’s intention of growing the market from an initial 30 stallholders (who each have to part with R500 for every market day) to 120 – hopefully Thuli’s wishes will be granted in due course.  

To be held on every first Sunday of the month from 10h00 to 15h00 on the 5th floor covered car park rooftop of the Casino, entry is free with visitors only having to fork out R20 to enter the Casino’s ample and secure parking.

Image Jacob MAWELA (Gold Reef’s Comm Manager Danelle Coulson and event organiser Tandi Potgieter bade the green light to the commencement of the Jozi Urban Market at the Casino resort’s parking).

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