When Fritz and Chanelle Schoon announced in March of 2017 that they would be leaving the much-loved Schoon de Companje in Church Street in Stellenbosch in the capable hands of the Boschendal team to rethink their vision and pursue other avenues of their craft, the food-loving community caught a bit of a collective wobble having to say goodbye to one of the best bakeries in Stellenbosch and enjoyed a nice long sulk. But now there is reason to celebrate, the duo are back in new streamlined form: Schoon Manufactory & Kie.

De Companje was the ultimate foodie haven – the Oude Bank Bakkerij, a restaurant, coffee roastery, butchery, produce store, wine shop and artisanal ice cream parlour all in one – and local lekkerbekke were not all that impressed to learn that the wunderkind baker and his creative collaborator-slash-rather-lovely-wife were making a move and shaking things up.

Fortunately for all concerned, things panned out wonderfully. The Boschendal team did an excellent job of taking over the reins at Church Street, leaving Fritz and Chanelle free to reinvent their business approach. And boy are we glad they did, because as of June 2018 (**drum roll please**) there are no less than THREE Schoon destinations in the Stellenbosch and the Helderberg region where you can pick up Fritz’s epic baking and tuck into some of Chanelle’s delicious food.

THE MAKERS

“Establishing and growing Schoon de Companje was amazing at first, and definitely a very brave thing to do,” says Chanelle. “We were still very young, and we didn’t have children yet, so we were very ambitious, and we enjoyed every second of it. We are very hands-on; Fritz and I are the ones making the food and baking the bread, and our creativity was going to waste in the big shop because we got stuck in the business of running it all. It was a great adventure and gave us amazing exposure and we are so grateful for it all, but it just became overwhelming, especially when we had our first son Willem and we felt like we needed a change.”

The decision to run a collective of smaller businesses rather than one big destination is something the couple had considered for a while. “Even before we opened the original bakery, Fritz always said that he would like to have one big production site and then have smaller shops. It’s much more manageble that way – you have one core team producing for all the shops, which allows you to control product consistency, costings and position staff much more effectively in roles that they enjoy. Plus, when you have more locations, you can make your lovingly prepared food and baking available to more people!”

“It’s still the same team from the Oude Bank Bakkerij days, but we’ve grown our capacity. I’m at the bread shaping table again full-time and we have space to move around in, which is fantastic!” says Fritz.

“We’re bringing all our skills into one amazing, centralised space. It’s where we brainstorm and create and, while we’re going to continue focusing on our specialities of bread, pastries and café food, it makes us flexible enough to stretch our wings and create new offerings when the opportunities arise,” echoes Chanelle.

As for working, living and raising a family side-by-side, this creative pair seems to have it all figured out. “Naturally, it’s completely different for every couple, but it works wonderfully for Fritz and myself,” says Chanelle. “The major benefit of working together is that actually get to see each other. Our hours are quite different from other people’s – Fritz starts baking at the crack of dawn every morning, and if we had to work on different premises, our schedules would be unlikely to coincide as well as they do now.”

The key, the pair agrees, lies in clearly defining your roles before you go into business together, and then respecting each other within those roles. “We love that we get to work together and we’re very privileged that we can do so without getting on each other’s nerves,” says Chanelle. “However, our roles in the business are completely different, so there aren’t many challenges at all to be honest. We divided up the responsibilities of running our business according to our strengths and we each focus on those, leaving the other one free to focus on what they do well. Fritz bakes and he is in charge of the big business decisions – we’ll brainstorm together but, in the end, he makes the final decisions. I, on the other hand, run the kitchen and the creative side of the business, and he doesn’t interfere with that.”

THE MAKINGS

In terms of the makings, patrons will be enjoying the same high-quality bread, pastries and café-style food they’ve grown accustomed to at the hands of the Schoon team over the years, now available from the Manufactory Café in Bird Street, the Croissant & Coffee Bar in the De Wet Centre (both in Stellenbosch), and the Bright Street Café in Somerset West.

Bird Street isn’t known for its vibrant food scene or enticing retail spaces, but Fritz believes that Stellenbosch isn’t made up of just four streets. “It’s time to explore the possibilities that the town has to offer. That’s why we’ve decided to put a shop and café in this production space,” he explains. Besides being the collective’s central hub, the Manufactory also provides the Schoon team with the opportunity to team up with likeminded creatives like Scar Hair and Mareth.Colleen, who are taking up residence in the additional 335 square metres has been reserved for creatives, designers and retailers. Ed’s Note: PLUS, you guys, there’s parking! Real, honest-to-goodness, actual parking! Like, YAY!

The croissant bar concept saw the light of day when an enticing space became available in the heart of Stellenbosch and Fritz decided to turn it into a stop-and-savour destination for Stellenbosch hurried populace. “I’ve always loved that nook and it has so much potential to be special. The craziness of life doesn’t leave much room for slow living and this little corner is going to allow people to savour something handcrafted and thoughtfully made in their busy day.”

The Bright Street Café has been established for a while and will continue to serve up gorgeous artisanal bread, excellent coffee and fresh, seasonal fare to the Helderberg community.

When & Where

SCHOON Manufactory Café

The Bird Precinct, 91 Bird Street, Stellenbosch, Tuesday to Friday 07:00 – 15:00, Saturday 08:00 – 15:00, and Sunday 08:00 – 13:30.

SCHOON Croissant & Coffee Bar

De Wet Centre, Corner Bird & Church Street, Stellenbosch, Monday to Friday 06:30 – 14:30, Saturday 07:00 – 13:00.

SCHOON Bright Street Café

3 Bright Street, Somerset West, Tuesday to Friday 07:00 – 15:00, Saturday 08:00 – 15:00, and Sunday 08:00 – 13:30.

Eatsplorer recommends:

Getting up nice and early on a Saturday morning, making your way to the Manufactory and grabbing a freshly baked loaf to enjoy back home with lots of butter and a nice, sharp cheese. Fritz’s bread is for sharing, and what better way to do so than with the people you love. Bonus points if you do it after a Parkrun, so you’re nice and hungry when you get home with that steaming loaf of lekker-ness.

Alternatively, take along your paper, grab a cup of seriously good coffee and some scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with slow roasted tomato and smoked bacon. If you’re feeling like something a little sweeter, opt for the brioche French toast with roasted apple, brie, buchu syrup and clotted cream (we double-dare you not to swooooooon at the sight of this one!).

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Writing Anna-Bet Stemmet

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