Tucked away within a quiet nursery setting near Sheffield Beach, this tranquil spot is more than just a venue … it’s a creative space where memories are made, occasions celebrated and ideas and good food shared.
With it’s warm, slightly rustic and eclectic interior and almost entirely glass greenhouse-type structure, The Place is anything but average. It’s obvious, from the moment you arrive, that true love and passion has gone into the conception of this space.
Owner Michelle Sykes opened The Place five years ago when she the opportunity for a creative venue where people could host all types of celebrations, business meetings, product launches, and intimate weddings.
Although she was born in Eshowe and grew up on a sugar and citrus farm on Nkwaleni Valley, Michelle spent countless holidays and weekends in Shaka’s Rock and Salt Rock with her parents and three sisters. Which is why, she says, the area is incredibly close to her heart. “Although it has grown, Salt Rock still has a quaint, village appeal. From playing tennis tournaments at Umhlali Country Club at the age of 10, to teenage discos at the Salt Rock Country Club and movies at the Salt Rock Hotel, this area formed an integral part of my childhood and life.” She married Darren in 1994 and moved to Somerset West in the Cape where both her sons, Justin and Shane were born.
One of the biggest drawcards at The Place, as with any venue, is the incredible food on offer. Although she works closely with a number of top North Coast caterers for events, Michelle also has a background in food and catering and loves whipping up fresh scones or crepes for those just stopping by for a cup of tea or coffee.
“My interest in food started while we were in the Cape, with the help of the Food Network on TV and plenty of reading and experimenting. I started an Asian Deli, ZoMoZ pantry&Taste, which stocked all the items needed to make sushi and I even hosted sushi classes, private dining and wine-tastings in our cottage in the garden.”
When the family moved to a family farm in Malelane in Mpumalanga in 2000, Michelle says oranges, grapefruit, paw paws, bananas, litchis and mangoes were in endless supply! She also worked at Leopard Creek Country Club for five years.
When they made their final move to Ballito, they settled in Dunkirk Estate, where they still live today. The Place is a culmination of Michelle’s experience and passion for hosting events and her love for the North Coast.
“Over the years, The Place has hosted product launches, business meetings and all sorts of celebrations from surprise engagements to bridal and baby showers and birthday parties. It is perfect for anything from 16 to 50 guests but, with a marquee option over the lawn, we can host up to 80 people.”
The beauty of this venue, Michelle says, lies in how easily it lends itself to almost any type of event. “Everyone’s function requirements are different. It can be as simple as just using the space and adding a few fresh flowers amidst the greenery to completely decorating to achieve your theme. We are open to collaborations and invite people to bring their ideas to The Place.”
Good food is key to any event and Michelle has a number of catering options available, including catering yourself and simply using their cutlery, crockery and glassware – depending on numbers. From an intimate tea party, canapés and bubbly or a three-course meal or seasonal table, well-known caterers like Olive Twist, The Delish Sisters, Food Matters, Rocket Catering and ZoMoZ Pantry&Taste all have menus available to suit any client.
You don’t have to be hosting an event to visit The Place. Since post-lockdown, The Place is now open from 9am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. They offer cappuccinos, a selection of teas, cream scones, cheese melts and crepes in the most magnificent, quiet setting with free WiFi. Definitely a hidden gem for anyone looking for a peaceful spot to get some work done away from home or the office.
They have also started hosting ‘order and collect’ markets, which evolved during lockdown, on Saturdays between 10am and 12. Follow them on social media to find out more.