“I knew a man, Bojangles, and he danced for you…” We have a Mr Bojangles here in Hermanus, too, although his real name is Peter Seals – the owner of Bojangles Bar & Club in Main Road, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this Saturday. Peter excelled in swimming and water polo in his younger years, earning him the nickname ‘Sammy the seal’. These days he’s better known to all as ‘Sam’.
Sam says his mom’s family originated in Hermanus and he lived here until he was in Grade 1. “Even after my family relocated to Cape Town, we always returned for holidays. As an adult I spent every long weekend, Easter and Christmas here at De Mond with my wife, René and our three kids. My mom still lives here and I’ve always wanted to retire to Hermanus one day,” he says.
Sam was involved in the packaging industry in Cape Town, while also running two pubs. When he saw an advert for a bar for sale in Hermanus, he decided to retire earlier than originally planned. He happily bailed out of the corporate world, sold the pubs and moved lock, stock and barrel. “Our kids were older, which made it possible for me to become more involved in our new venture,” adds René.
At the time, the bar was called Lime & Diesel and operated as “a real Afrikaans fishermen’s bar”, says Sam. “Before that it was a notorious den called ‘Die Onverklaarbare Bar’ which operated for many years but did not have a good reputation.” The Seals decided to turn things around with an extensive make-over in a new colour, Royal blue, and the original plan was to cater for the older crowd who enjoys dancing to the tune of golden oldies and music from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“We bought the business in May 2019 and after renovations we opened as ‘Bojangles’ on 15 June,” says Sam. “We soon found out, however, that there was a bigger demand among the youngsters in our town, who in those days had nowhere to go for a good jôl. So the direction we took was dictated by demand, and instead we ended up creating a sort of weekend club for the younger crowd. The youngsters loved it and Bojangles soon became a popular place for get-togethers, especially over the holiday periods and weekends. We also have karaoke evenings every Wednesday.”
Bojangles is open seven days a week from 10:00 until late and Sam is on the premises every day (“except Tuesdays, when I play golf with the DOGS in Kleinmond”). He is very proud of his staff, especially his managers, JJ and Frikkie, and handyman William, and says they run a tight ship.
“We enjoy being able to provide a venue for young people to enjoy themselves but are also very aware of the responsibility that entails. We always have security at the door and only serve customers who can produce their IDs as proof that they are of drinking age. We also have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs – the keywords are awareness, management and control.”