Her love for baking started when she was only nine years old, standing on her tiptoes in the bakery her father managed as his staff created little sugary masterpieces
Little Aneesah Seale would eventually be allowed to help in the kitchen and serve customers, laying a foundation for a dream she would fulfil almost 30 years later – opening her own coffee shop.
The former bookkeeper and wage clerk had always dreamt of owning her own eatery, but was wary of the pitfalls associated with opening one’s own business.
Two weeks ago, the part-time baker decided to make it happen. And within three days, That Coffee Shop was launched.
The establishment, in Firethorn Street, Bonteheuwel, is the first of its kind in the gang-ridden, lower income area about 15km from the Cape Town City Bowl.
Her covered front courtyard has been turned into a sitting area for her customers, while her kitchen has become a hive of activity where she works her magic.
A knack for baking
She gave the exterior of her house a lick of paint, hung drapery along the walls and arranged the tables her father made ahead of her official opening two Sundays ago.
“Welcome to my coffee shop,” she jokes with open arms.
Born and raised in the Cape Flats community, Seale has always had a knack for baking, her father, Eddie Thompson, said proudly.
“I have been telling her for years to take the talent she has and make a living off it,” the chef and carpenter said.
“It’s about time she did it.”
Seale, 36, wakes up before sunrise to get cracking on her batter, baking different cakes every day.
The red velvet is her best seller, she says, proudly showing off her perfectly frosted creation.
That Coffee Shop also serves breakfast and lunch, and the menu is completely dependent on Seale’s mood.
“That’s one of the perks of having your own place,” she jokes.
She has employed four previously jobless locals to assist in the kitchen and serve the customers. On weekends, her two oldest children help out in the shop to earn cash.
“They want cellphones, so I told them to save for it. You need to work to earn to buy,” Seale maintains.
“That’s what we need to teach our children. Why depend on government? You need to work for yourself.”
Her biggest critic has been her dad, Seale says, as Thompson emerges from the kitchen with a breakfast dish he threw together himself while her staff prepared for opening time.
“He called my first breakfast dish ‘common’,” Seale says.
“Because it was,” her father replies.
But she has grown in leaps and bounds since then, mastering tricky hollandaise sauce and producing perfectly poached eggs in a bid to liven up her menu.
She is self-taught, Seale boasts, although she is hooked on YouTube videos and online food sites to keep up to date with culinary trends.
So wonderful visiting That Coffee Shop in Bonteheuwel today, an area usually making headlines for all the wrong reasons. But Aneesah Seale is set on adding a bit of sweetness to the area with her new shop located right on her front stoep🙌🏽❤️ Full story on @eNCA pic.twitter.com/9kM4b4dcPC
— Tanya Nefdt (@TanyaNefdt) January 30, 2019
Keeping it affordable
Her little business is busy every day of the week, Seale boasts.
Sundays are the busiest, with people queuing for a seat.
She is mindful that her clientele doesn’t necessarily have money to splurge on costly meals, Seale explains.
“I went to different coffee shops and compared their prices. From that, I took about R10 off and that is what I charge.”
While her home and business are situated on the “most quiet side” of Bonteheuwel, it is not lost on Seale that her hometown is sadly gang ridden.
According to her mentor, local ward councillor Angus McKenzie, fifteen people have been killed in the area since the start of the year.
“There’s just so much negativity here. It’s always about shooting and negative things. I wanted to bring something good, different. A treat you don’t have to go out of the neighbourhood to have,” Seale says.
“If you have money for wine and drugs, why not rather spend it on good food, a latte and cake?”
Success no surprise
A shebeen operates a few doors away, but she has no qualms about it.
“There’s no interference from them. It’s not a sit-down kind of place,” she shrugs.
Locals stream into her shop, wanting to congratulate her on running such an “oulike, lekker” place.
The feedback from her neighbours has been wonderful, Seale says proudly.
Her husband is her biggest source of support, she jokes, calling him her sponsor, silent partner and cleaner.
She also runs a baking business on the side, called That Cake Lady, which she started less than a year ago.
Her success doesn’t surprise her, Seale says. She has put in the work and is ready to reap the rewards.
“I prayed for this. And if you can dream it, you can do it.”