Head off to The Pantry, Joburg’s newest ‘fancy but easy’ convenience store
A new kind of convenience store is making waves in the northern suburbs of Joburg.
You know when something new has just hit the right spot when everyone, including your colleagues on a Zoom meeting, are talking about it. “I had the most amazing bread at a lunch on Sunday,” said one. Another was delighted that along with some of the finest gourmet fare one could also buy cigarettes.
They were talking about the new The Pantry on Jan Smuts Ave in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The brainchild of Marble restaurant fame and business partners chef David Higgs and Gary Kyriacou, the new venture sits aptly just under the award-winning restaurant in what was once a petrol station and burger shop.
It’s the fanciest forecourt I’ve seen with lots of parking, the petrol pumps yet to be unveiled and rather than a typical convenience store, this is a destination. On a weekday afternoon when I visited the forecourt was busy, tables to one side packed with people just chilling, chatting and lapping up the coffees and takeout foods.
The owners describe it as “fancy but easy”. I’d say it’s closer to a New York style of deli, their idea of combining a deli and take away with a supermarket where you can find handy everyday brands interspersed with imported luxuries. It has revolutionised the forecourt convenience store offering.
On entering, the first sight is the beautiful displays of goods on the shelves that just groan “pick me, pick me”. You can’t miss the bread stand or their famous Marble focaccia, a long row of gorgeous wood-fired oven loaves (R50), lined up beautifully like plumped up cushions with all the attractive dark markings of baking and the glow of a light sprinkling of coarse salt.
The food team is headed up by bakers extraordinaire chefs Megan Meikle and Tyler Clayton. The variety of breads and bakes is a testament to their skills. In the deli area a fresh round of rotisserie chickens (R90) were just being taken out of the oven with that ‘buy me’ tantalising BBQ chicken aroma.
It’s a hive of activity. On offer are things like fish and chips, Prego rolls and pies and in the chilled section an assortment of salads and veggie accompaniments.
Spend time at the fridges, rows of them, devoted to different offerings like ready-made meals, soups, sandwiches and wraps, fresh meat and dairy products.
Good things come with big price tags. While some things might seem expensive, the prices of others are in line with that of other supermarkets offer. The quality of goods is impressive and they are available seven days a week, on a 24-hour basis. It’s a great find.
• The Pantry, just off Jellicoe Ave, on Jan Smuts Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg.