Franky’s Diner in Cape Town

The retro Sea Point-based burger joint that’s set on whisking patrons back to the 50s

Veteran restaurateur Saul Beder firmly believes he was born in the wrong decade. Though he spent his most impressionable years in the racy 80s, his heart has always been back in the 50s, and because he and partner Franklyn Arendse are convinced that many Capetonians can relate, they’ve established a restaurant designed to cart patrons back to a time when Elvis was king and Marilyn queen.

“Maybe it’s my passion for cars, music and dancing, but I just love that period,” explains Saul, his enthusiasm palpable. “I also like the clean-cut look of the time – there was style, the guys dressed well, everything was about lines and curves.”

To properly pay homage to the wonders of this bygone era, the new Franky’s Diner – it opens its doors on Sea Point’s Main Road on 14 June 2014 – has been decked out authentically enough to quickly persuade customers that they’ve just stepped into an eatery off the set of Grease. Red-and-white vinyl booths beg visitors to settle in for a banana split sundae; Coca-Cola paraphernalia, electric guitars and old mini car models scream retro; a colourful jukebox croons rock ‘n’ roll classics in one corner; and chrome accents, neon lighting and black-and-white chequered flooring hold the while scene together. Plus, just in case guests have forgotten some of the famed music and movie stars of the time, there’s a large display wall featuring striking portraits of James Dean, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and many others.

Similarly, the food comes straight out of the American 50s: think sloppy joes, cheese ‘n chilli dogs, curly fries, breakfasts with hash browns and homemade cornbread, doughnuts, waffles, soft serve and soda floats. The original, malted and double thick shakes come in a dreamy assortment of flavours – Cotton Candy Crush, Pina Colada, Chocolate Fudge and Kiwi and Bubblegum, for example – and the lean, pure beef burgers, which are made according to a secret recipe, are, according to Saul, “absolutely outstanding”. There’s even a 900-g Chubby Burger that comprises six patties, bacon, cheese, chillies and a medley of other trimmings – if patrons can devour it in less than 10 minutes, they get it for free, win a T-shirt and have their name written up on the wall of fame.

While the founders have clearly kept the menu rooted in the past, they have added a number of high-tech, contemporary touches to the interior to spruce things up a little. Most notable are the multimedia touch-screen televisions found at every booth that give diners access to movies and free Internet. Visitors can also charge their laptops and cell phones via three-pin, two-pin and USB ports, and even the kiddies can play games on tablets that have been set up in the children’s zone.

Speaking of little ones, the retro eatery prides itself on being very family friendly – there’s a play area, a baby changing station and a kids’ menu with items like corn dogs and potato smileys, and every tiny tot is treated to free candyfloss and mini doughnuts. Essentially, Franky’s is meant to be that ‘round-the-corner pop-in for everyone and anyone.

“It’s a local hangout,” asserts Saul, “the kind of place that kids go after school and adults go for supper.”

And in a Sea Point that’s been just begging for a joint like this for years, it’s certainly a welcome addition. We have no doubt that it’ll soon be embraced with open arms by all those Atlantic Seaboard dwellers who share Saul and Franklyn’s affinity for the 50s.

Tip: If you happen to own a classic 1950s vehicle, park it just outside Franky’s when you visit and receive your burger for free.

The Bill: Prices aren’t quite the sort you’d find on an authentic 50s menu, but they’re still very reasonable. Burgers cost between R42.50 and R165 (for the gargantuan Chubby option), footlongs range from R35 to R65.50, breakfasts sit at around R50 and milkshakes are all R30 (R32 for a malted shake, R35 for a double thick shake and R37 for a malted double thick shake).

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 2am (within six months of opening, Franky’s will start staying open 24 hours a day in true diner fashion)

303a Main Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 433 0445

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Looking for other eateries that welcome infants as well as adults? Check out our overview of kid-friendly restaurants in Cape Town.

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