Driving past the old Linden Hotel building from his nine-to-five job, Divan Botha yearned for the day he could hang an “open” sign to his café on that busy corner in Linden. Years later in 2012, after quitting his corporate job and partnering with sister-in-law Suzanne Botha and his friend Braam Botha, The Whippet was born. “My first business partner had a whippet called Jozi and we loved it so much we chose to name the restaurant after the dog,” recalls Divan warmly.
The trio envisioned reintroducing South Africans to their neighbourhood by celebrating the rich history of Linden through their restaurant. Since then they have brought on Siya Ndlovu, PJ Heiberg and Izelle Mostert as business partners.
The magnificence and history of the old Linden Hotel is captured when you see the barista counter situated where the old hotel lobby used to be. If you love decor, you’ll appreciate how the styling stays true to the building’s 1950s origins, with mid-century design but with a modern twist. Wood panelling is used throughout the exterior and interior walls of the building, in the bathroom, mirrors and gold fixtures celebrate that era beautifully.
Now in its 10th year, The Whippet is a must-visit for Joburgers and everyone who visits the city and loves to brunch. After eight successful years in Linden, a second branch was opened in Melville, but financial pressures brought on by the Covid pandemic led to its closure.
Divan adds that the Linden branch would’ve suffered the same fate had it not been for the community. “The city came to our aid in dramatic fashion,” he says. And he’s not exaggerating. In 2020, the restaurant launched the Whippet Support Fund campaign calling on Johannesburg to help keep their doors open.
The city answered the call and donated more than R120 000, saving more than 12 jobs and supporting many families while the hospitality industry was at a standstill. “When we reopened after lockdown, we were instantaneously full.”
|The Place||The Whippet|
|Ideal for||Get dressed up for brunch with your bestie or partner you’ve known longer than three dates. You’ll want to bring someone you’re comfortable with because a two-hour brunch will easily turn into four hours, trust me! It’s a very cool, laid-back Joburg crowd with a mix of young families and hipsters. They are dog-friendly so bring your pooch and treat him/her to a puppuccino.|
|Order This||They change their menu every six weeks and have variations of the traditional breakfast and lunch meals, but their buttermilk chicken Benedict is a clear winner. It’s hearty, delicious goodness on a plate. Suzanne, one of the cofounders, has been creating the menu for 10 years and does a remarkable job of bringing renewed life to the popular favourites.|
|Signature Bev||The sport is famous for their responsibly farmed coffee brewed by an all-female team of baristas, so it would be a missed opportunity not to try their delicious brews. Order a café latte and get enchanted by the latte art — very Instagram-worthy!|
|You’ll like it if||You love great-tasting unpretentious food. The vibe is cool and slightly hipster but not the annoying kind. Whether you’re on a breakfast date or after-work drinks on Friday, the simple food and outstanding service will keep you coming back.|
|The Friday Mood is||All day cocktails and bottomless bubbles will give you that feel-good Friday feeling.|
|Address||34 7th Street, Linden, Johannesburg, 2195|