We are Anna and Fred. In August 2016, we decided to spend every last cent we had (and didn’t have) to take a two month break and travel to Northern California to spend time with family. We needed change. While driving around one day I thought, “I wish I could just get away.” I thought that Fred would counter my urge for escape with sensible reason. He had no reason to be sensible. We found ourselves in a thrilling position of dissatisfaction. Unsatisfied enough that we would dare to weigh the cost of financial input against the potential reward of an adventure.
We had at this time already put in motion a tentative move towards change. This is how it went. Fred comes from a family who are proprietors of a master craft that has been handed down from father to son over four generations. They make meat. I mean they live meat, meat has defined their stories and sustained their lives since 1905. When Fred and I got married in 2011, meat was missing from the story. I couldn’t ever quite accept this. Even though I had not been part of Fred’s life during the butchery heydays, I knew in my heart that the story wasn’t over.
In 2014 it began again. The concept of the artisan food market reached Port Elizabeth and when I saw an announcement for the first Valley Market to be held in our city, I made a suggestion to Fred. It was an idea that I had already mused over, and here was a platform for it. My husband was persuaded to sell boerie rolls (gourmet of course), to unearth a precious hand-written boere wors recipe and enlist the help of the meat patriarch of the family (JF Heydenrych senior). Each batch would be declared the “best wors we have ever made”, with a freshly cut sausage hitting the sizzling pan as soon as production was complete (for testing).
Pregnant with my second child and sipping Coca Cola to suppress the morning sickness, I served the hundreds of market goers alongside Fred during the first months. We were encouraged by the positive response and our own ability to produce an offering worthy of positive response. We soon added burgers to our menu, Fred creating his own secret patty recipe. When we needed extra help and later when our daughter was born and I had to take a step back for a while, Fred’s mom would serve with him, always with a smile.
First ever Valley Market. Surprised that people are actually buying and enjoying
our gourmet boerie rolls. Having fun.
I was at this time renting office space for my web development business in a ware house. A noisy, dusty ware house with aspirations of becoming an inner-city hub for creatives with aspirations of renting office space inside an inner city ware house conversion. With a new Italian deli/coffee shop and a Cross Fit gym all under one roof, it was injected with a good degree of energy in those early days. I took up Cross Fit, drank a lot of coffee and witnessed the shifting and repurposing of the space around me. Architectural drawings revealed the bigger picture and our good architect friend revealed to us a strange little space, essentially a throughway. We dreamed it up, but we were not ready. Fortunately, ‘the church’ as the strange little space was nicknamed, was crammed nearly to the ceiling with gearboxes and was not ready either. It was an imagined future which caused me great discontent with the present.
Valley Market at the Tramways. This is shortly before our trip to California.
I dwelled in my discontent for some time. At times I would rise above it, allowing myself to believe that our dream would be. At other times I blamed Fred (not proud of this) for a life that wasn’t. And one time, driving in my car, I dreamed that we could boldly defy what was and grab hold of what could be by drawing a line in the sand. We were ready.
Our time in Redding California gave us the space and time to redefine our idea of where we were going as a family. We began to fully accept a new, unexpected story for our lives. We slowed down in readiness for what we knew was to come. We spoke our dream out loud, it became part of our identity. We began dreaming more, bigger. We felt free.
California dreaming. The day before flying back to South Africa.
Full of excitement for what is to come.
In November 2016 we returned to our strange little space filled with gearboxes. Our talented architect friend from Strukt Architects had transferred his vision for ‘the church’ to paper, complete with a reclaimed oregan pine counter-top balancing on an industrial i-beam and an open kitchen the size of a medium-sized fish tank. Gearboxes out, Fred and our house guest Abram in with paint brushes and plain good spirit. Thank you Abram for your timely visit, the perfect partner to cheer Fred along when a dream still looked like an emptied out storage room.
We pulled it off and were ready to serve burgers over the summer holiday season of 2016. We had no idea what we were doing but we did it. We worked alongside our team in that little kitchen, we figured it out and we had some hairy nights where we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people wanting to eat burgers. We did it and we continued doing it. 2017 was a definitive year for us. I will always remember it. Late nights, early mornings (small children to come home to), lots of laughing, some crying, trial and error and coming out of it the other side a lot more sure of who we are as a brand and who we are as leaders in our company. A worthy education.
December 2016, shortly after opening,
And now 2018. Now I want to slow down and remind myself of our story and of how far we have come. We have stepped into our dream, but it’s a landscape with valleys and hills and an horizon that needs to be kept in focus. Fred and I both enjoy a great deal of satisfaction from what we do everyday and we share a vision for our company and team for the future. We are so happy that we took the risk and dared to dream and we continue to do so.
Our restaurant, Frederick & Son, is open every day of the week and is located in the Valley Precinct of Port Elizabeth. It’s an area that is undergoing a rebirth as the city recognises the potential for an eclectic show piece of natural beauty and local creative talent as brave entrepreneurs risk it all to add to the story of an historically rich valley etched into the heart of the city.
This short production by Innerview Productions throws a humorous light on what is occurring in our Valley.
Big thanks to the Valley Market team for providing us the platform to follow our dream, we will be forever grateful for this as well as the unseen work you do loving the downtrodden in our city.
Thank you Niel from Strukt Architects for your vision.
Thank you to our team of 2017, who are mostly still with us. You guys went through it all with us and each one of you is part of our story.
Thank you to our village because our children are along on this adventure with us and we wouldn’t be able to be doing what we do without our village.
And thank you to our Almighty Father God.