A good story always needs a villain and for this one we selected the boogeyman of the trade, the ruler of the coop, the one to which we all bend the knee, hard. The landlord.

Before we continue, please note that none of the establishments listed below told me on or off the record that the reason for its closure is solely contributed to their landlord. This is just me dealing with change.

Commercial Rental

Now that we covered that, we can quickly look at how commercial rental cost works in South Africa and why we are forever the subjects of the overlords, I mean landlords.

At the top-end of the rental pyramid, you have places like Sandton City and the V&A Waterfront. According to a Cushman & Wakefield’s report, a shop the size of a double garage in Sandton will cost you about R60 000 per month to rent and the equivalent space in the V&A Waterfront will be around R52 500.

But high-end locations like these seldom attract authentic start-up bars. It’s just too expensive for the small guys. Even more so if your bar is located in a shopping mall with a national retailer like Woolworths or Pick n Pay. Most of the time these big chains will demand a discounted rate and guess who’s paying for the overall rental shortfall?

Yes, you guessed it, the small independent sots.

That’s one of the many reasons why all the cool bars are normally situated on the wrong side of town. Hit up a potential hipster neighbourhood and you will most likely run into a good watering hole.

But beware, time in these splendid establishments will be limited. Setting up shop in hinged neighbourhoods have drawbacks. Either a scruffy hood slides further into decay and drags the establishment down with it, or without knowing to you, landlords will up the rent and before long you will be sipping your martinis at a Bootlegger in the new neighbourhood mall.

And that is the story of gentrification, folks. Landlords turning shitty authentic neighbourhoods into shitty pretentious neighbourhoods.

So when I woke up to the news that one of the best new bars in the world will close its doors next month, I naturally reached for the rum as a breakfast substitute.

Mootee to close

Mootee, the award-winning, bartender owned bar in Melville casually ambushed Instagram followers on Saturday morning with the news of its imminent closure.


The good news. They will hopefully set up shop somewhere else.

Mootee divulged the following to DrinksFeed:

“To start off, I think that it is important to note that there are multiple factors that led to us, the ownership making our decision to shut down in Melville and relocate elsewhere, but there is definitely one factor that drove the nail through the coffin.

In short, we established Mootee in Melville to attract people from outside of Melville – tourists and Joburgers that do not usually frequent the suburb. Sadly of late it has become increasingly difficult to entice “outsiders” to visit 4th Avenue Melville at night due to a chain of events initiated by patrons that frequented the establishment across the street from us and its Landlord, Ideal Cafe. The Landlord had been operating illegally and the Melville Residents Association had been taking action to rectify it.


For months Ideal Café patrons would congregate outside of our establishment, blocking off the road and causing chaos. On weekends they would urinate right outside our entrance on the street, drink and smoke shisha and dagga in their cars, have sex in plain sight on the streets. It was all out chaos in 4th avenue where we are based. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a shooting took place outside in the street at the end of March.

The rest, as they say, is history. JMPD stepped in post the shooting, but sadly the damage to 4th Avenue in Melville had already been done and we have been unable to get back on our feet since. Sales have dropped by 80%. We have been left with no choice but to close down and relocate. We are in the final stages of discussions with potential investors with regards to relocating Mootee elsewhere, but cannot divulge further information regarding this at this stage.”

Cause & Effect on the move

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, Cause & Effect is all set to open at its new location on 280 Dock Road in the V&A Waterfront.

Cause & Effect 2.0

South Africa’s newly crowned Cocktail Bar of the Year confirmed the move a couple of months ago, citing long-term rental uncertainties as one of the reasons. More interesting was the news that the Waterfront approached them with a luring rental offer, twice, to which they accepted the second time around.


At last, a 1-up on the overlords.