If you happened to stroll past The Yard on the main road in the heart of town of late, you would no doubt have noticed that the iconic courtyard has been abuzz with frenzied activity. At first glance it might have appeared as though the property was merely benefiting from a fresh coat of paint and some much-needed TLC, but that’s only part of the story behind The Yard’s rejuvenation and reinvention.
We can now confirm that the commercial spaces at The Yard have all been acquired by the members of a television production company now based in Franschhoek, called Red Carpet Productions (RCP). The first member of the production house to make Franschhoek his home was Creative Director of RCP and TV host, Imraan Vagar, who moved here in late 2007 to escape the stresses of city life and start a new chapter with his partner, Chris Smit, the then executive chef at La Residence. Upon observing how much happier he seemed for the move, Imraan’s sister, Saira Essa, and her husband Mark Corlett, the other members of RCP, moved to Franschhoek soon thereafter.
“We loved the peace and quiet of Franschhoek but on days when it felt like our new home was under siege from tourists, we would often seek out the refuge of the courtyard of The Yard for lunches with friends,” says Imraan. “The Yard courtyard, with its gently babbling water features and towering shade-giving tree, represented an oasis of tranquility, tucked away from all the high street clamour.”
It’s fond memories of those times spent in the peaceful courtyard that prompted RCP to make a bid for the commercial spaces in The Yard when they heard that the previous owner was considering selling.
As the proud new owners, RCP have ambitious plans to elevate the profile of The Yard and restore it to the in-demand oasis it once was – with a trio of exciting new establishments scheduled to join the ranks of Pam Golding, Café Roca and Marilyn’s.
Regular visitors to the Franschhoek Village Market who flocked to Chef Chris Smit’s wildly popular pop-up restaurant and MCC bar at the market every Saturday will be pleased to learn that Chris will be reviving his beloved “Smitten” concept in the street-facing space that was formally “Art in The Yard”. The new “Smitten” at The Yard is billed as a deli, bistro and bakery. Regional produce, seasonal ingredients and unpretentious food at affordable prices – all enjoyed in a plush and premium setting – will form part of the daily dining experience at “Smitten”. Watch this space for further updates.