I’m trying to find an easy way to describe the ‘menschness’ of Jeanne von Hirschberg, but like the woman herself, it’s a multi layered endeavour. A smart business consultant who is as comfortable in the boardrooms of big-ass companies as she is behind the kilns, firing up her beautiful ceramics. She is also a japanese kite afficianado, and has really, truly beautiful handwriting, the type that gets ‘fonted’ if you know what I mean. She will never forget your birthday – and not only that, will make sure that a home-baked cake will find its way to you, even under lockdown level 5. And all of this is happening while managing a few of her own and family-run businesses, two kids under 5, two dogs and finishing a Phd.
Miss Moss and I recently visited the Tamboerskloof home and Deli she shares with her husband and girls, and we chatted to them about life during lockdown, the challenges they faced maintaining their businesses and the best godamn peanut butter bombs you’ve ever tasted in your life.
Photography by Miss Moss
Their Victorian-style home is attached to the Blue Cafe, which has been going for well over a decade. Growing up in the area, Jeanne used to visit ‘die Blou Kafee’ on a daily basis for most of her childhood essentials i.e. Ghost Pops and Gatti lollies. Through the years the cafe has morphed into various personas as it served the needs of a changing community – in the 80’s for example there were arcade games littering the pavement.
Jeanne and Murray approached the ‘then’ owner of the cafe (the Daily Deli as it was known) 6 years ago to make him promise that he would ‘call them first’ if he ever considered selling, and it’s because of that ballsy move that they became the custodians of the home, cafe and neighbourliness that was wrapped up along with it.
Below is the studio / home office where Jeanne creates her cheeky ceramic plates, you can view more here.
The hallway below, with its original Victorian tiles remarkably still in tact. Murray and Jeanne have been renovating the home in stages since they purchased it, initially letting out as an Air Bnb Rental before moving in themselves.
In Jeanne’s own words: “the Cafe, with all its flaws and goodness has been going for over 110 years – originally it was a tram-stop with a tuck shop attached to it. I think we are the 5th or 6th family to own it and there is a nice continuity in the unspoken agreement to always keep it a special place of community. In the 70’s, the owner used to advance the young working people some cash in exchange for a post-dated cheque. The 80’s saw the sidewalks filled with arcade style tv game machines with pac-man and mario brothers. The previous owners’ kids used to waiter at the cafe. Today we have some of the original staff that have been here for over two decades. We loved, especially over deep-lockdown, to see how neighbours supported each other – whether it was David the tuna fisherman that went to catch tuna for the whole neighbourhood (and we were the collection point) or whether it was school children supplying us with ginger beer or chocolate brownies; or neighbours knitting hats or trading their lemons for credits on their accounts – or neighbours leaving care-packages for other neighbours at the cafe – the soul of this cafe is the strong neighbour-spirit.”
And to add to bluesy hues of amazingness, there is also en masse, the family’s other business that champions “massage as way of life, and not a luxury” to which I affirm a very strong hellyes.