Even though Ficks Restaurant was not ready to open to the public on Monday as planned (due to some administrative glitches), the ‘grand opening’ event went ahead on Sunday afternoon. And glitches or not, guests were gob-smacked as they descended the stairs to arrive at this new establishment with its unique setting in a sheltered cove, right at the water’s edge and surrounded by unrivalled ocean views.
To complete this idyllic picture, two whales even made their appearance as the guests mingled on the newly-built decks with cocktails in hand. Everyone agreed that Fick’s Pool had been given a new lease on life with this sensitive and tasteful development and that the owners, Just and Joke Gonggrijp and their son Daan, who also own Dutchies on Grotto Beach, had every reason to be proud of what they’ve accomplished.
The existing ablution building, which was rather an eyesore, has been renovated and remodelled into a brand-new kitchen, with public restrooms at the back. The decks wrap around Fick’s Pool, hugging the cliff face, with an outdoor wine bar and a stage area under a Bedouin tent where musicians can perform. The pool and the area surrounding it have been thoroughly cleaned up and Joke said they were astounded by the amount of rubbish, including heaps of condoms, which had to be removed. The area is now spotless and the water crystal clear, and Joke said it is part of their mandate to keep it that way.
At the opening, Just said they had taken their first steps towards creating this “little gem” two and a half years ago when they tendered for an outdoor restaurant, which he jokingly added was “just a posh name for a pop-up restaurant – that means that if it rains the restaurant is closed”. He said the three main objectives that guided them through the design process of this historic landmark was to keep the pool open for public use, to retain the history and sense of place of Fick’s Pool and to preserve the natural environment.
The concept of the restaurant is based on a ‘Pinchos and Wine Bar’. Joke explained that the Spanish word ‘pincho’ comes from the verb ‘pinchar’ which means ‘to pierce’. It is used in certain parts of Spain to describe bite-sized eats that were usually pierced with a cocktail stick, although it is now used for any small plates of food. The word appealed to Joke because she had fond memories of family vacations in Spain, and especially “the tastes of Spain”, and also because she is known to always “pinch” Just’s food off his plate when they dine out – much to his annoyance. But now at Ficks everyone can “pinch” and share food from their variety of small plates.
The restaurant was officially opened by Lampie Fick, a descendant of the Fick family, who were the owners of the land for 130 years. According to Lampie, the property was originally acquired by Josias Servaas Fick from the Weltevreden Farm in the Caledon district, by way of a government grant in 1889. It was a large erf that extended from the northern end of the pool, across Marine Drive (which had not yet been built) and all the way up to Church Street, with enough land for his sheep and cattle to graze on.
The family spent their summers hunting, fishing and swimming in the cove, which soon got the name ‘Fick se Gat’. When Josias Servaas Fick died in 1919, the property was passed down to his descendants, who retained ownership right up until 2011, even though parts of the property were sold off over the years. In 1933 the municipality built a wall in the slipway and created a tidal pool that could be enjoyed by all the town’s children. The name was later changed to the socially more acceptable ‘Fick se Poel’ and then anglicised to ‘Fick’s Pool’.
“Because the decks of the restaurant are higher than the pool, they do not hamper anyone wanting to enjoy the water,” said Joke. “It is much the same as at Dutchies, where you can enjoy a delicious meal and the beach and ocean at the same time.”
The Gonggrijps are hoping to open Ficks Restaurant to the public within the next two weeks.