No, this is not intended to be the beginning to a joke. I am truly asking whether anyone reading this article has ever heard of this bar. I am willing to bet my oldest dog that the answer from a very high majority of you will be no. In fact, the only reason the other bru’s and I know about this place is the fact that we somehow stumbled upon it after our latest night out doing a review. We left Beerhouse, just down the street from here, looking to go somewhere else for a beer for the road. We were delighted that we found some craft beer options being served on tap at The Scary Canary, namely the Cape Doctor Pale Ale from Atlantic Storm and Devils Peak Lager, and even more delighted when we saw the place! The new owners of this establishment have taken baby steps with it since taking ownership – only three months ago. I met up with one of them, Sean O’Brien, to find out more about this awesome spot.
Sean and his two business partners, Graham Scholtz and Gavin O’Donoghue, procured the Carnival Court Backpackers (along with the bar situated on the premises) in March of this year. With backgrounds in the travel and tourism industries between them, encompassing many years of experience, the opportunity to take over this hostel was too good to pass up. With the backpackers’ side of the business being in existence for over 20 years, it is firmly entrenched as one of the foremost hostel locations – not only in Cape Town, but in the world.
The bar at this venue, however, was previously owned and run as a totally separate business to Carnival Court, sharing only the location. Seeing the obvious benefits of being able to tie the two together, these former schoolmates wasted no time in renaming and re-branding the bar into its current incarnation – The Scary Canary.
So, why the name?
“Absolutely no reason, other than it was the most catchy of the names we had come up with during a brainstorming session,”
says O’Brien. He went on,
“From there, the design of the logo, our colour scheme of yellow, our landmark wall murals on the outside on our balcony – it all flowed and pays homage to the quirkiness and vibrancy of this famous street in which we are situated – Long Street!”
Their vision for The Scary Canary?
With a long-standing reputation with tourists, both from within South Africa as well as from abroad, Carnival Court has and will continue to bring guests through the door. The owners’ aim for The Scary Canary, is for it to be a place where these guests can mingle and get to know each other. By the same token, the hope is for the bar to be known to outsiders as a place to come to meet people from other parts, to share cultures, experiences, to make friendships, and, ultimately, to just hang out and have a great time.
As it can handle groups of up to 200 people, it is an ideal spot – particularly in light of its location – to have as a venue for birthdays, bachelor parties/hen nights, or even as a starting point for a large gathering prior to hitting the town on a big night. O’Brien adds, “With regular drinks specials and promotions, The Scary Canary will definitely appeal to those on a budget.”
“And, have I mentioned our big screens?” O’Brien asks. Now that he mentions it, a quick look affirms what he is on about. Big screens, cleverly appointed behind the bar as well as on the opposite side of the room, make this an ideal spot to meet up with friends to catch a game, particularly with the soccer World Cup currently on.
Food-wise, there is nothing currently on offer at The Scary Canary. However, with a fully functioning kitchen at their disposal, the plan is to slowly begin introducing food into the mix.
If the term “hidden gem” was to be described in just three words, “The Scary Canary” wouldn’t be too far off being this description. “So why didn’t I know about it before?” you might be asking yourselves. No need to worry about that – just be grateful you know about it now!
Visit the Scary Canary website: https://www.carnivalcourthostel.com/the-scary-canary
Find them at 255 Long Street, Cape Town: