A taste of South Africa in North Eastham

By ROBERT GOLD
rgold@capecodonline.com

March 31, 2013
NORTH EASTHAM — Sanette Groenewald whirled around to a visitor, her eyes flashing with excitement.

“This is the baby,” Groenewald said, opening the door to a walk-in freezer. “I never thought I’d have one of these.”

The expansive space at her new location in North Eastham wows her. Groenewald stuffs portable freezers wherever she can find space at Karoo Kafe, her Provincetown eatery which is about a tenth the size of her new digs.

Plenty of newness drives Groenewald these days. She opened her South African cafe in Provincetown in 2002, but this will be the first year in which she’ll run two restaurants at once.

Karoo Restaurant opens Monday as a year-round dinner establishment. The Provincetown cafe is a seasonal business which serves lunch and dinner.

Groenewald bought the bank-owned Eastham property within Main Street Mercantile late last fall. She and her staff have spent months turning the building into a South African restaurant. There are earth-toned reds, yellows, oranges and browns integrated into the flooring and walls to celebrate the landscape colors of her native country. There is a map of South Africa near the entrance, explaining that Karoo is a semi-desert region of the country.

And there’s plenty of space for Groenewald to dream about what’s next.

“We call that the future,” she said, pointing to stairs leading to a third floor that has a giant room and outdoor deck. The floor could be turned into a sports bar, a music venue or several other options. But this year, she and the staff are focusing on kick-starting the new restaurant.

Groenewald, who lives in Eastham, will spend her time between the two restaurants, with the entire existing Provincetown crew staying at the current restaurant.

“I wanted that consistency,” she said.

In Provincetown, food is served on paper plates while the Eastham restaurant will feature a wait staff and “real knives and forks,” she said. But while the presentation may differ, the menus will be very similar.

“People are expecting Karoo’s food,” she said.

Days before the grand opening, Groenewald still marveled at her new restaurant’s expansiveness. When she first checked the property out, it overwhelmed her. But now, she embraces its size as her new restaurant takes hold.

“You have to take this opportunity,” she said.

Jim Russo, executive director of the Eastham Chamber of Commerce, said he was “thrilled” Groenewald was opening a spot in town.

“She has a fantastic reputation not only for the product, but for the service and consistency,” he said.

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