Galley owners head to court to stop auction

The Galley staff dabbing their eyes during an emotional ceremony at the beachside restaurant where co-owner Mathea Eichel thanked them for their loyalty and dedication.

The owners of The Galley on Fish Hoek Beach are heading to the Western Cape High Court this afternoon after their legal team applied for an urgent interdict to stop the City from auctioning the lease of the beachside restaurant.

The 20-year lease, with an option to renew for another 10 years, will be up for grabs by the highest bidder tomorrow, Thursday, November 23.

It’s one of several properties and property leases across the metro that the City is advertising for auction (“The Galley lease up for auction,” Echo November 9).

During a gathering at the restaurant this morning, The Galley co-owner Mathea Eichel thanked her staff for their dedication and loyalty and prayed for them assuring them “they will be looked after, no matter what”.

Staff dabbed their eyes with tissues while some shook as they openly cried in their hands.

Ms Eichel said they would leave the matter in God’s hands.

She said it had been a month of “hell” for her and her family.

“When I go shopping and walk into Pick n Pay, people say to me, ‘You are losing your business,’ and people come here and sit down and ask me if it’s self-service again today.They come here to break us down, but they will not succeed,” she said.

She said she had no answers when her staff of 25 years and more asked her: “How will I feed my children, how will I pay my rent?”

She said her last wish was for her elderly patrons to be looked after.

“Some of you come here every day and you have all become like family and you support me like a daughter. For that I thank you,” she said.

Ms Eichel, and her husband, Herbie, had run the restaurant since December 1987. The couple took over the 20-year lease from the previous leaseholder under the old Fish Hoek Municipality, and the lease as it stands today was signed with the City of Cape Town in 1997. That lease expired in 2016, and since then it has been extended on a month-to-month basis.

Ms Eichel said they were given one month’s notice and they needed more time to plan for their future.

“We’ve been given 30 days to pack up our life here after almost 40 years. It’s not fair,” she said.

A regular patron, Denise Capel, who was at the ceremony, said she visited The Galley daily.

“I have no family or children and the people of the restaurant have become like family to me. I know everyone, from the waiters to the car guards and it will be a shame if this is taken away from us.”

The Galley co-owner Mathea Eichel speaks to her staff at the restaurant this morning.
Patrons and members of staff dancing and praying at The Galley this morning.