Another old Sea Point institution closing its doors, been there for 41 years. Theo’s Barber, run by a Greek man who came to South Africa as a youngster.
According to Jacques Weber: “After 41 years the legend of Theo’s Hairdresser will be closing its doors for a final time. Theo’s have been given notice to vacate and Theo will be working part-time from his house in Milnerton going forward. For many of us, he has seen us grow up and has been part of our lives from a very young age. Truly the end of an era. An absolute legend to many in Sea Point! Theo, go well, keep safe and thank you for the many conversations, cuts and all!”
I agree with Jacques. My memories: Theo always had an old radio standing near the mirror playing some sad old songs, or talk radio, or something jolly. He cut the hair of generations of boys, who became men and the elderly, who would die off. He was the barber of the late Dr. John Sonnenberg, also an institution in Sea Point.
Years ago, there was a steakhouse next to him, also run by a Greek man. I forget the name now, could it be Zorba’s? They served steak on wooden boards (considered unhygienic nowadays, but here I sit), you received a little Greek Salad in a wooden bowl, and then soft rolls with butter.
For candle holders they used empty Bellingham Johannesburger bottles. The wax would drip off the bottle and then stay stuck to it. Vicky Leandros would sing in the background, also Mikis Theodorakis. Telly Savalas (Kojak) once ate there.
Against the one wall there was a sort of toy windmill that would move around in circles with little lights flashing. Thank heavens I never took magic mushrooms; it would have been quite a sight.
The same waitress worked there for decades; I wonder what happened to her. She was prim and proper, straight back like a meerkat and could run like Zola Budd.
The food was always great, but if you did complain, the owner would come with his big steak knife to your table, hand on his hips, blade in hand – and in a Greek accent ask: “What is de Problem? Huh?”
His brother was also a Theo, who ran a top steakhouse just a few blocks away in Mouille Point. Also gone, it’s where the Hussar Grill is now. I can still see him walking fast up and down the promenade for his daily exercise. In shorts, come winter or summer. He had bright blue eyes.
Theo’s Barber is probably one of the oldest venues in Sea Point to finally close (or move), the other one is the Pizzeria Napolitana. It opened in 1957. Still owned by the same family. La Perla (the pearl) in Sea Point opened in 1969.
And so, the people who remember these places die off, and soon a whole new world exists on top of the old one, like a new layer. The word Pentimento comes to mind: a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.
More vividly: I see the smoke that twirls through the chimney at a crematorium, up, into the air, until you don’t see it anymore. The service ends. You go home. Life goes on.