The opening of Eye of Africa’s brand new attraction, The Old Schoolhouse and Central Park, presents an exciting new entertainment option for families living in the lifestyle estate and surrounds in Johannesburg’s southern suburbs.
The Old Schoolhouse and Central Park promises to offer something for every member of the family, with a restaurant and deli to please foodies while a pool and play area keeps kids busy for hours. Developer David Nagle, the brains behind the project, says that the aim was to create the kind of space where families feel free to linger for hours, spending quality time together; an alternative to malls and the other indoor spaces.
Food and beverage manager Peter Karam agrees. He says that the atmosphere is reminiscent of the weekly visit to the public swimming pools in the “olden” days before social media and technology took up our attention: “There’s that same festive feel. There’ll be everything from live music to people making balloon animals for kids. A visit to The Old Schoolhouse and Central Park is about real family time – this is a place to put your phone down and truly connect with each other.”
One of the best ways to connect as a family is, of course, over a delicious meal, and The Old Schoolhouse offers plenty of options to do just this. In summertime, sunny days call for a braai, and the establishment’s deli obliges with made-to-order braai baskets, which visitors can enjoy on the lawns. Then there’s the Deli itself, which offers a range of gourmand foods, including fine cheeses (think emmentaler, brie, camembert and a host of other international varieties), charcuterie (salami, chorizo, cervelat and silverside, to name just a few) and artisan-style breads like rye, sourdough and ciabatta. Also on sale are Mediterranean-style delights like dolmades, dips, pickled and roasted veggies; everything you need to put together a perfect picnic – although, if you’re feeling lazy, you can call ahead and order a basket. Customers will also be able to order rustic pizzas and stock up on pantry necessities, such as bread, milk, and basic essentials without having to leave the estate.
Meanwhile, the venue’s Italian restaurant ‘Old School Deli ‘ dishes up authentic, hearty meals – think parma ham and melon bruschetta or oven baked melanzane, or what about kingklip in lemon butter sauce or pasta with fillet strips bathed in creamy mushroom sauce for mains? End your feast with classic favourites like lemon meringue pie or tiramisu. The eatery offers seating for 150 diners inside, while courtyard seating accommodates a further 80 guests.
The restaurant presents a large selection of fine wines, as well as much loved craft beer brands.
A large kiddies’ play area beside the pool means that adults will be able to enjoy their meals in peace – and, just in case, an old-fashioned ice cream parlour tempts little ones with sweet treats.
Nagle notes that the venue’s location is a highlight in itself. The restaurant overlooks the estate’s duck pond, making for a true village green atmosphere soon to become the social heart of the estate.
Most noteworthy, however, is the schoolhouse for which the venue is named, dating back to 1870., it plays a key role in creating a vibe unlike any other.
Patrick McInerney of Co-Arc International Architects Inc – the firm which designed The Old Schoolhouse – explains that the old building creates a foil for newer additions like the deli and restaurant: “Our initial brief was to create a pavilion-type feel,” he says. Given the special nature of the solid stone walls, and the whispering of history, it made sense to make this the centre piece of the development, with all other buildings taking their cue from its design. “Our goal was to make sure that none of the additions overwhelmed the schoolhouse; thus, we kept the level of the school, and made sure it was higher than the new buildings, allowing people to move around easily. The idea is to float the pavilion in the landscape, rather than have it crashing down, providing elevation for the view of the park and water.
“The columns present on the veranda of the school building set the rhythm for the new additions,” McInerney continues. However, whereas the school building is all heavy stone, the newer buildings include steel to create a contrasting sense of light and impermanence.
“We’re excited to welcome back wholesome, family entertainment,” Nagle concludes.