Behind 44 Stanley ‘s industrial looking façade is a Mad Hatter ensemble of industrial warehouses that have been converted into jewellery studios, quasi-Provencal barns, hole-in-the-wall shops, and art galleries that make for a refreshing change from the cut-copy-paste shopping malls that have proliferated Jo’burg’s retail scene.
Comprising about 25 stores, the shopping quarter centres around two courtyards. West, is a shaded urban olive grove, occupied by the patrons of il Giardino degli Ulive Italian restaurant who come for leisurely long-table alfresco feasts under the orchard in summer, and brazier-side, in-kitchen dining in winter.
East, the other outdoor area, is a cheery piazza packed with old-fashioned wrought iron chairs and tables, where the Salvation Café satisfies whole-food appetites, and the Boat, a quirky Portuguese take-away servery, specialises in fresh sandwiches, pasties-de-nata, and faturas to-go.
Whether by design or fortuitous coincidence, the stores located on the west side of the precinct appear to pay homage to all that’s retro, classic and tradition-driven; while the studios and galleries on the east side celebrate all that’s eco-conscious and neo-modern.
At 44 on Stanley, almost every store is worth a look-see, because nothing is run of the mill, or off-the-rack, from Nigella Lawson’s Wonki-Ware ceramics to the authentic Zululand pottery. You’ll find couture straight off the runway of African Fashion Week, and planet-friendly organic cotton and hemp clothing that could also serve as a low-carb, high-fibre alternative to brunch should Vovo Tello bakery have sold out of their sought after organic, stone-ground flour breads and French patisserie.
With a vibe that’s part Greenwich Village, and part Notting Hill scruffy-chic, 44 Stanley in Milpark lures trendy families, arty-farty types, and iPad and Google-geeks, who bring their Smartphone’s and Apple-Mac’s out for a breath of fresh air and sunshine the way the rest us walk our dogs. Real pooches are welcome, by the way.
44 Stanley is a place to meet, eat, chill, browse, find a gift for someone who has everything, or dress yourself, and your nest, in the latest urban designer chic.