The Waterfront Oasis – Where the Sky meets the Sea
Written by Ami Kapilevich, NewMedia
When Shimmy Beach Club first appeared, there was nothing quite like it on the African continent – a little piece of Ibiza in Cape Town. We speak to a man who was there from the very beginning.
December 12, 2012. Twelve twelve twelve. Shimmy Beach Club had just opened its doors to the public for the very first time. And it was pumping. Celebrities, industry gurus, curious competitors, the beautiful, the lucky and the lovers of fun were admiring the latest pendant on Cape Town’s glittering nightlife necklace.
But there was one person who wasn’t taking it easy. Malcolm Moodie was the newly appointed manager of the venue. Everything had gone well during the soft launch a few days prior, but now he had to make sure that the till systems were working, and that venue was not only living up to its promise, but also its potential.
“Of course I was stressed,” gasps Malcolm, “but there was one moment that I will remember forever. I was standing on a balcony overlooking the venue and watching all the people having a great time, and I realized – there and then – that we were doing something that had never been done before in Africa. The realization sunk in of the magnificence of this venue. Of this venture. We were onto something big.”
Malcolm had spent his entire life in the hospitality industry. He’d started as a sculler when he was 14 years old. (He wanted to be a waiter but the minimum age was 16.) And then he quickly moved through the ranks, becoming a manager at several popular Cape Town establishments. He did a chef’s course but the thought of cooking the same dishes night after night did not inspire, so in 2007 he moved to England where he managed a large restaurant in the southern countryside, serving breakfasts to hunters in the dawn. Two years later he returned to South Africa and found himself running a guest farm in the Overberg.
“I literally started from scratch,” he says. “I bought a six pack of beers, sold them at the bar, and with the profit bought two six packs.” By the time he left the farm it was a thriving establishment where people had to book tables for the famous Sunday spit braais.
In 2012, he heard of a new place being built in the Waterfront. A special place – something bold and completely different. So he went over to take a look. “It was still a building site,” he recalls, “but with a bit of imagination you could see the potential. I mean, the location alone blew me away. I suppose you could say that I bought into the dream of what it could be.” Little did he know then that he would be one of the biggest reasons for its success.
Make no mistake, if you want to stand out in Cape Town’s already saturated bar and club scene, you have to do something exceptional. And from the very first moment, Shimmy had that X factor.
Of course, it was not always smooth sailing. There are significant and unique challenges to running a multi-purpose establishment like Shimmy. It’s a bar; a very large bar. It’s a top-notch restaurant. It’s an indoors and outdoors club that regularly hosts some of the biggest DJs in the world. It’s a pool deck, a VIP lounge, a beach, an oasis. How exactly do you run an oasis?
Integrating all these systems while ensuring the quality of the service and the overall experience for some of the most discerning customers in the world is not an easy task. And that task fell to its general manager – now head of Group
This article is featured in the Shimmy Style Magazine, Summer 2016 / 2017