This is what the major cities in the UK need
Take-away with an urban edge
July 27, 2005
By Terri-Liza Fortein
It's the early hours of the morning in Long Street, Cape Town, and clubbers, streetchildren, security guards and even club owners descend on a food stand at the heart of this vibrant entertainment strip.
Lebanese music blares from the speakers and brightly coloured table cloths, plastic fruit, flowers and a multitude of decorations adorn a silver cart that is commonly referred to as Mohammed's.
The owner is Lebanese-born Mohammed Alame who offers his customers "the flavours of the Middle East at reasonable prices and at a time of day when most other food places are closed".
The food stand situated opposite Kennedy's has been a regular feature of Long Street for three-and-a-half years, and the falafel, boerewors rolls and schwarmas Alame serves up all contain his secret blend of herbs and spices.
A resident in the city centre, his cuisine is also popular with tourists who come to his stand because they have heard about his delicious offerings from friends or read about him in tourist guide books.
Alame, 53, has been living in South Africa for almost 15 years and owned a restaurant in Johannesburg before moving to Cape Town in 2001.
He explains that he had some of his restaurant equipment brought to Cape Town and bought a few odds and ends here before he could start up his stand that operates from Tuesday to Saturday.
"I needed a few thousand rands to buy supplies and a few other things, but I had most of my equipment from my previous business."
He originally set up his stand on Cape Town railway station but soon realised that there was no market for his kind of food there.
"I wasn't doing very well on the station, so I decided to move to the Foreshore, but I was only busy during lunch hour and nothing was happening for the rest of the day."
While he was out with friends in Long Street one evening, he realised that having a place where people could buy food at night close to most of Cape Town's clubs would be a much more
"I started off selling boerewors in Long Street, but I put my own stamp on it by adding unique Middle East flavours to the boerewors."
Since then his business has gone from strength to strength and on weekends he serves an average of more than 300 customers. He is open from 8pm to 5am.
"Sometimes I get to Long Street at about 7.45pm and there is already a queue of people waiting for me to open."
He said his unique operating hours have never been a problem for him and he has never felt unsafe because there are 24-hour security patrols operating very close to him.
"I have no problems at my stand besides a few drunkards, but they are harmless. Alame started off on his own but currently employs seven people."
In addition to his food stand, he also specialises in catering for weddings, conferences and parties with a Middle Eastern theme.
Alame attributes his business success to the fact that he has always offered his customers fresh, delicious food and tries his utmost to maintain good relationships with his clients.
"The people know and trust me because I am always at my stand and they see me actually preparing the food in front of them," he said.
Although trading on the pavement gives his business an urban edge, Alame, who hooks his stand to his car and takes it home with him every night, would like to have his own take-away premises in Long Street as it would be more convenient.
This experienced entrepreneur also advises those who are considering opening any restaurant or take-aways to "always try and offer people something different and never to compromise on quality". - Staff Reporter.