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The Tait's Alma Cafe

Our story + more!

Music, home-style food, and the story of how a live music venue was able to navigate a business-crippling pandemic. This is The Alma Café.

Stay for the ride — the tunes are vibey and the food is incredible.

Perched on the corner of a quiet southern suburbs neighbourhood is the Alma Café. The building, which houses the café in Rosebank, is perhaps as old as the neighbourhood itself, in fact, the building is over 100 years old. We have reliably been able to track it’s existence as a “shop” of one kind or another back to the 1950’s – always a family business, mind you. In 2004, it came into the ownership of Richard and Retha Tait and a new era of classic flavour began in Cape Town.

Initially, the Tait’s business functioned as a homestyle bakery / coffee shop and corner store until 2009 when the couple decided to combine their areas of expertise. The collaboration of fine, home-cooked style catering and live music birthed the sacred live music hub that many know The Alma Café for today.

Alma Cafe
Show At Alma Cafe

Pre-COVID, the Alma operated from Wednesday to Sunday as a live music supper-theatre. Guests would arrive an hour before the show to mingle and enjoy something to eat and drink. You could expect a traditional homemade meal like Retha’s famous bobotie, lasagna, honey-mustard chicken and more.

It is very much the ethos and view of the family Tait that keeping “Live Music Alive” is a necessary community service and have remained committed to that ideal with “a fierceness and tenacity that I have seldom seen before,” writes CapeTownEtc’s James Redman.

Recent History:

Then came March 2020…

The venue was faced with the reality that the fundamental aspect of their business would cease to continue due to lockdown restrictions. Despite this setback, The Alma Café started a delivery service, providing fresh meals to the neighbourhood.

By the time lockdown moved to stage 3, the café decided to return to its original intention of being a homestyle bakery and corner store, with the addition of a coffee machine and beans provided by Tribe Coffee — one of Cape Town’s finest Coffee Roasteries.

Show At Alma Cafe
Alma Cafe fresh veggies

This move was an instant success as community locals and intrigued outsiders flocked to the café in a desperate effort to return to some kind of normalcy after months of isolation. The café boasted homemade products of all kinds, from biscuits and cakes to jams and honey and offered toasted sandwiches and pies.

The buzz around the café sparked an idea to host a Saturday morning community market.

The market offered a space for other community members whose livelihoods had been disrupted by the pandemic to come and sell their products, which varied from fresh produce sourced in Phillipe to hand sewn linen and craft jewellery.

On the first Saturday market held at the Alma Café, there was a queue that sprawled from the entrance of the building all the way down to the railway line, a good fifty meters long. Jono Tait describes the moments after the market: “If it had been a Hollywood film, they’d have depicted it with a scene of hugging and tears for all the characters involved”. A true feat of humanitarian success at the centre of which was The Alma Café.

With lockdown pleasantly in the past, the live music nights are back and the coffee shop lives on!

Show At Alma Cafe

Our gigs + friends!

“Music makes the world go round!”

Our podcast!

Listen & join us on our monthly “deep dive” into the guests and stories behind the renowned live music venue in the heart of Rosebank, Cape Town: The Alma Cafe.