Flatties to seafood, old favourite no longer serving

The old Vic Bar in the 1920s-built Sivad Buildings in Point Road, Durban.

The old Vic Bar in the 1920s-built Sivad Buildings in Point Road, Durban.

Published Mar 24, 2024


Durban — The Vic Bar and Restaurant on Mahatma Gandhi Road (then Point Road) is what takes us down memory lane in this week’s feature on old Durban.

Known through the decades for its inexpensive but good food, the 1920-built Sivad Building which houses the bar now stands empty awaiting an enterprising new owner.

While there is little online about the building’s origin, it appears the people who did remember the bar were far more interested in reminiscing about good times and good food.

What could be found was a query made on Facts About Durban by Doug Forde, head of community learning at Jersey Heritage, asking for information on Jerseyman Thomas Benjamin Frederick Davis (1867-1942).

“Davis moved to Durban in about 1902 and by 1905 he had made enough money to build a house on the Berea (Port View, Cowie Road). He was involved in stevedoring all over Southern Africa yet the records are a bit thin on the ground up here in the UK and the islands,” wrote Forde.

“He obviously was very successful as during the Depression of the 1920s and 1930s he gave away about £1 million sterling to various causes in Jersey and SA.

“His headquarters was Sivad Buildings on the Point and the parent company was known as Thomas BF Davis. He also operated as Messrs Brock and Co Ltd in other ports.”

Davis died in 1942.

The famous Vic Bar on Point Rd (now Mahatma Gandhi Road) is shuttered and looking for a new owner. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD Independent Newspapers

Gerald Buttigieg wrote on Facts About Durban: “For many Durbanites who are now expats, this may be of interest as no doubt the older ones may remember when Point Road was not that bad. In the late 60/70s, the bottom end of Point Road at night was always a hive of activity with Smugglers leading the way as an off-beat entertainment centre. If you were young and daring and nothing on, a trip down that way would surely have some entertainment value; strip shows, music, dancing, the occasional fight (known as a raut in the slang used then) taken out into the street and a racial mix defying the laws of the day.”

Allan Hannah wrote: “Whilst on the bayside maybe we should be going out to lunch?? What about the Vic Bar for a peri-peri ‘flattie’ of note! I remember, not so long ago, when it was really difficult to find a spot with a little elbow room in the long bar that fronted the Point Road pavement.

“We enjoyed an ice cold beer and a flat peri-peri chicken on many occasions and met some wonderful characters in the Vic Bar.”

Facts About Durban founder, the late Allan Jackson, chipped in, saying: “My favourite dish at the Vic was the sliced (chorizo??) sausage fried in oil, with a hefty helping of garlic.”

Shaun Nalson, describing himself as a “proper Durbanite” who “had great fun, said: “The Vic was a favourite, every Saturday pm was off to the Vic for a ‘flatty’ and a good couple of beers, after being at lunch since 12, thirsty until 4.30pm, the sunglasses were needed to help the eyes!”

Sadly, today the lively bar and restaurant is closed, and the happy memories remain behind in the empty building.

Independent on Saturday