Joburg restaurateur Larry Hodes, who owns restaurants Calexico and Arbour Café, has taken on Voodoo Lily Café, in the same centre as Arbour Café. The restaurant was recently relaunched and boasts a new look-and-feel, as well as a new menu. “Birdhaven is an incredible suburb and Voodoo Lily is up to the challenge of being the ‘go to’ restaurant for the community, delivering an excellent service for business people, couples, families, and friends,” he says.

The restaurant, which has seating for 160-180 outside, 80 inside and a staff complement of 20, is a great all-rounder, ticking off quite a few boxes in the neighbourhood eatery category. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is perfect for a quick cup of coffee, after-work drinks, a quick snack, various functions as well as a place to work from, with a separate corner for workstations. And not only that, it’s pet-friendly.

The Voodoo Lily Café kitchen is headed up by Chef Josh Simon, and the menu reflects a number of different influences. Signature dish Shakshuka was one that Chef Josh fell in love with on a trip to Israel, and the lunch and dinner menu currently features Hot brisket on rye, Loaded latkes, and Fresh gnocchi with pulverised broccoli and garlic. The full dinner menu is still in development, but there’s a cocktail menu, a great range of wines and beers, and menu options for kids and dogs.

Looks wise, the relaxed eatery has a chunky pottery mosaic behind the bar, and a large photographic mosaic that dominates one of the walls. The photographic mosaic depicts a voodoo lily and is created out of thousands of photographs of people, pets, sayings, scenery and festivities, reflecting the community spirit of the restaurant. Ryan du Toit of Dutwaa Creative, who contributed to the development of the revamped Voodoo Lily brand, says, “The brand is about altruistic concern for the welfare of the environment and others, fun-loving and extroverted, whimsical and sociable, health-focused and wholesome, and trendsetting. The restaurant reflects all this, providing the perfect venue for any occasion, from ‘refined first date’ through to ‘nobody feels like cooking tonight’.”

Hodes adds, “We had many requests from the community to incorporate a bar into the restaurant, to retain the community feel and family friendliness, and to continue being dog friendly. That’s what we’re doing.”

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Maretha Langenhoven