Clay Cafe is one of our favourite family-friendly attractions in Cape Town. It’s affordable, the food is good and you can easily spend a whole morning/afternoon there. I was pretty sad to hear about the fire that ripped through part of the property last weekend. But while the barn was destroyed – with thousands of painted and kilned items sadly destroyed with it – the restaurant and play area were unharmed and happily, it’s business as usual at Clay Cafe.
In case you don’t know the concept, here’s how Clay Cafe works: you book ahead – that’s important. Unless you’re visiting on a weekday during the school term, don’t just rock up and expect to get a table. They do operate a waiting list for those who haven’t booked, and kids can play on the impressive jungle gym and trampolines while you wait, but know that you will have to wait. Once you’re seated, you get a quick demo of the various painting techniques and then you choose your piece(s) of pottery. Each item is individually priced, and there’s everything from tiny bowls to giant platters; from piggy banks to foot-high Lego Batman figures.
And then you paint. Or you attempt to paint while also mopping up spilt water and trying to stop your eager child from pouring an entire pot of paint onto their chosen plate. And if you’re anything like me, you then look at your work and wonder why it doesn’t look anything like it did in your head.
But it’s all good, because it’s a fun day out, plus you get to take home souvenirs of varying levels of usefulness (if only he’d choose plates over Batman!) and beauty (yes, we do have some…interesting items of crockery in our kitchen cupboards). And of course, if your child is anything like mine, they will love it.
We first visited when Kai was three, which I think was a little young (it was a stressful visit). He’s now 4½ (that half is very important) and it’s actually a great activity. But you don’t need to have little children to enjoy Clay Cafe – I’ve seen parents with ten-year-olds and teenagers and indeed, I always see groups of artsy 20-somethings or creative grannies (sans grandchildren) sipping cappuccinos and creating the kind of plate that I see in my mind’s eye when I sit down to paint. Every time I visit with Kai I think, this would be a lovely place to come alone for coffee and cake and a nice relaxing hour or painting (mid-week, while the kids are at school), but of course I never do.
But I will be back soon to support Clay Cafe following the fire. And of course to add another selection of mismatched crockery to our cupboard.
Clay Cafe is open daily from 9am to 5pm. There is a standard studio fee of R40 per person, then you pay per item that you paint. You must return to collect your glazed and kilned ceramics around three weeks later. Bookings are highly recommended.