Bread & Roses Cafe and Bistro

Bread & Roses Cafe and Bistro

Melville cafés are known for their transience. I hardly notice anymore when one closes down and a new one pops up in its place.

But when Kader Bouredji of the IT Corner – a well-loved institution at the corner of 4th Avenue and 7th Street – told me earlier this year that he had sold the business to a new venture, I was crestfallen. The IT Corner was my go-to spot for work meetings, coffee catch-ups, and emergency Wi-Fi when my ADSL went out. The IT Corner belonged there; I couldn’t imagine 7th Street without it.

But soon after the handover I began to hear positive buzz about Bread & Roses, the new kid at the corner of 4th and 7th. “Finally, a Melville café that takes its Americanos seriously,” wrote one Facebook friend on the day Bread & Roses opened. The exterior was painted bright turquoise with red highlights. I glimpsed a fireplace inside, and cheerful African prints. It looked promising. 


I’ve been to Bread & Roses three times since they opened in July, once for a coffee catch-up, once for lunch, and once for breakfast. I’ve come away more than satisfied each time. The menu goes well beyond that of the average Joburg coffee shop – the owners put careful thought into the coffee beans, the bread-baking recipe, and diversity of items on the menu. My cappuccino was creamy, my dessert was delectable, and my frittata was fantastic, topped with a mound of saucy chorizo. The only thing that didn’t wow me was the veggie burger, which I thought could use some spicing up. 

It’s also clear that the owners have put careful thought into the vibe of the café, creating an atmosphere that is unique to Melville. One wall is graced with an eye-catching print by legendary Melville artist Steve “Kwena” Mokwena. The books on the shelves are written by local authors, some of whom have probably become regulars at Bread & Roses already. The colorful chandelier was custom-made by a women’s cooperative in Swaziland. 

After speaking with Julia Sestier and Ishmael Kapula, the founders of Bread & Roses, it all makes sense. Their faces are familiar to me; Ishmael, originally from Zimbabwe, used to work across the street at the Lucky Bean restaurant. Julia, from France, is a former photojournalist who I’m sure I’ve crossed paths with before. 

“We’re a couple in real life, as well,” says Julia, smiling across the table at Ishmael. Ishmael has made the rounds on the Joburg restaurant circuit and designed the menu for the Orbit Jazz Club in Braamfontein when it opened last year. Julia was a regular at the IT Corner and has always been interested in the restaurant business. 

When Julia heard from Kader that the space at 4th and 7th might become available, she and Ishmael decided to take the plunge. (Incidentally, the IT Corner has rented a new space two blocks up and plans to reopen this month.) The couple filled the restaurant with furniture from their own house and brought on Ishmael’s two brothers as members of the staff. One brother manages the kitchen and the other manages the floor. 

After our interview, Julia and Ishmael convince their team to pose for a group photo. They all stop what they’re doing and gather in the doorway, looking out onto that legendary Melville corner. Everyone is smiling.

I think Bread & Roses is a keeper.


Bread & Roses Cafe and Bistro

Opening Times:

Tuesday - Friday: 8am - 5pm

Saturday - Sunday: 8am - 4pm

Contact: 011 482 1858

by Heather Mason
Bread & Roses offers a relaxed, trendy setting filled with carefully thought out decor and intimidatingly good food.