CityLife Arts

Gail, Louise & You Bar, toast of Rosebank Sunday Market

This popular chill out space in Rosebank is manned by former journalist turned entrepreneur Louise McAuliffe. and her long time friend Gail Hahn

By Edward Tsumele

The reference to the ability of human being to be creative, innovative and adapt new ways to not only survive, but in some cases even thrive when faced with challenges is a well told story.

This is the case with the current situation of the pandemic for creative individuals and businesses that have seen their way of doing things disrupted, jobs lost and bottom lines affected . One such  industry  that has born the brunt of Covid-19 is the media industry, as media houses continue to shed jobs, publications  downsize in order  to survive, and in some extreme cases, some have closed shop completely, unleashing an unprecedented media blood and an army of skilled, but unemployed media professionals out into the streets.

Louise black hat RSM

However there are some stories of hope, resilience of the human spirit and innovation that are starting to emerge in the midst of the devastation of Covid-19, as those that have lost their jobs start new professions all over and some are doing a damn good job of this new career trajectory.

Well, it is a Sunday afternoon, and I find myself among a throng of people that are trying to get into the lift of the Rosebank Mall, on our way to the fourth floor. It is here at the fourth floor, usually a parking lot from Monday to Saturday, but come Sunday, a thriving Sunday market, selling the usual items that one gets to see at markets around Johannesburg such as artisan food, fashion items, jewellery, art,  food stalls, second hand books, juice stalls and even freshly harvested platnts. And with restrictions of gatherings have been eased under level 3 of lockdown, markets are breathing life into Johannesburg’s people’s lives again as they can now go out, and off course strictly following health protocols. The same rules apply to the Rosebank Sunday Market.

RSM bar first customers

The reason I am here is to witness for myself the success of one media professionals-turned bar owner Louise a former  colleague of mine at Sowetan where we both worked  some years back. This former multi-media  journo is a classic example of how one could be creative and turn a challenge into an opportunity.

And indeed as per her famous bubbling personality,  Louise and her business partners  a favourite of visitors to the Sunday market, attracting mainly by the drinks they serve, but also satisfied by the good service they receive. I witnessed all these myself while at this mobile bar at tucked at the corner of the market.

Spirits rising at Rosebank Sunday Market Bar

The bustling bar now named glu! has been revamped and is fast becoming a popular spot to meet friends, and enjoy a variety of drinks from this venue, who pride themselves on their customer service and welcoming environment.

‘Right now we are focusing on what our patrons are requesting to drink, plus we have a few spirit mixes that most have never tried before. So far it is working because they are coming back, week after week, to indulge in again,’ said McAuliffe.

‘We do not have the perfect recipe yet, but each week we are putting more and more smiles on the faces of everyone who visits our quaint venue.’

‘Not a lot of people are aware that the market is up and running again. Business is quieter but the open space is perfect for those concerned about social distancing, who fancy a day out and a wander around the market, shopping and partaking in a spot of lunch.’

McAuliffe and her best friend since 1992 Gail Hahn, have partnered up, using the best of their skills to build what they hope will become a sought after Sunday afternoon destination.

‘The market community and sourcing what we can from other vendors, is high on our list of priorities. 

‘We get red berry and passion fruit smoothies from Berrylicious, add a special tot, then serve our daiquiris. We get freshly squeezed juices from Pure Natural Juice Bar and all of the cocktail aromatics from our spice vendor Roshan Chotoo. Why reinvent the wheel when we can truly support local and buy local from our fellow traders.’

McAuliffe who admits to being a very social being is just loving the engagement with clients, sometimes getting into trouble because of talking too much and not pouring drinks. 

What right now is a shining light in McAuliffe’s life, is not a reflection of the struggle she has experienced, since the country was locked down with Covid19.

‘All of my videography work completely dried up. I had several assignments booked up with regular clients: Henley Business School, University of Johannesburg and the Institute of Internal Auditors SA, plus the prospect of the annual conference with LETPC, which I have done for the last three years.’

Covid has crippled many! But retrenched multimedia journalist, Louise McAuliffe, who worked three years for Eyewitness News, plus a decade with the Sunday Times and Sowetan, delved deep into her skills base and started manufacturing masks at the onset of Covid, to make ends meet.

McAuliffe started skills transfer with varsity students. Teaching them to sew and join her team so that they could meet the demand for their superb quality masks. It was Sarah Hahn, one of her young entrepreneurs in training, that suggested they start selling their products at markets, and that is where her passion for these financially broken incredible communities began. 

Much like the tourism industry, markets closed country wide and unknown to many, this was their only source of income and not just a side hustle for pocket money. Government provided no financial aid for them.

Through social media, McAuliffe started to grow awareness of the plight of market vendors and how much supporting local and buying local, means to them all. She would take photographs of all the vendors stock and post on social media. It was not just about her own products, it was about reaching out and sharing just what you could buy from just one market venue.

Between teaching home helpers to sew and start their own mask business, growing her own mask manufacturing concern, her sister Julie da Silva spotted a Facebook post, where Rosebank Sunday Market were looking for someone to do their social media.

‘I am not a social media expert. I have been doing it for so long and my own track record has been quite successful, growing the Sunday Times twitter account to 96K followers, before being retrenched. I just took a leap of faith using my existing posts where I have been promoting markets and served that up as my portfolio, and that is how I came to join the Rosebank Sunday Market community.”

McAuliffe spends far more time than she should promoting the market and it is with pure love and good intentions to try to uplift the community. 

‘The traders are amazing and to hear their struggle being much like my own, all I want to do is help them, and hopefully myself as well if we can bring more traffic to the market.’

McAuliffe has been selling various goods like her clutter from home at the Car Boot Sale, and the masks in the main area of the market. 

‘The opportunity to run the bar arose and I asked to be considered. We pivoted the process of running the bar for a four week period to see if it was sustainable and viable, considering lockdown restrictions, and still the fear of so many in going out. The result were pleasing and  we decided alongside management of the market, to continue with this endeavour.’

Rosebank Sunday Market is open every Sunday from 9am – 4pm. They have a wonderful variety of goods to be purchased plus fantastic street food from all corners of the globe, from a boerewors roll and chips, to Sri Lankan delicacies.

On 28 March they are hosting an Easter Breakfast Run where they are inviting everyone with an engine to join them for a charity drive. Visitors are requested to please bring an Easter egg, toy or some non-perishable food that will be distributed to disadvantaged committees around greater Johannesburg.

More about the Breakfast Run here: https://bit.ly/3t1iTEA

McAuliffe has become a great supporter of non-profit organisation HopeSA.org, whom she has assisted at feeding schemes, twice in the last week. She intends to do a lot more of this, and is capturing the story of HopeSA.org founder, Namritha Sivsanker’s journey and how she depleted her own savings, to now receiving donations to feed seventeen communities currently around Johannesburg, even reaching out as far as Meyerton. She has even travelled to KZN to spread her kindness. If you are reading this and have the opportunity to help, even as a volunteer then please contact Namritha at enquiries@hopesa.org or info@hopesa.org Food donations are constantly in need. 

Read more about McAuliffe’s involvement regards HopeSA.org on her Facebook page. Friends have told her that they have read this post more than three times due to the compelling content:  https://bit.ly/3kZw32m 

See some of the images she captured whilst out with Sivsanker https://bit.ly/3qlUF6o 

Just in case you have gotten this far and are still wondering what glu! stands for – it is Gail, Louise & You – we are the glu!

Follow @Lamazingmedia on Twitter and Instagram.

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