Going beyond the call of duty

Kauthar Brown.

Travelling to and from her workplace in Strand Street in the city centre is the highlight of her day, says Kauthar Brown.

“Walking through the city centre is exciting – there’s always something happening on my way to work.”

Kauthar, fondly known by her customers as Koekie, works as a waitron at Spur, but started out at the eatery 18 years ago.

She grew up in Portland, Mitchell’s Plain, and left school before she finished matric because she wanted to explore work opportunities.

She started working at Spur at a young age, as Chico the Clown, looking after the children’s play area, to earn pocket money.

“After I left school, I worked in retail in Mitchell’s Plain for two years before I got married and had my son, now 13 years old.”

During this time, she had moved to different retail stores within the group of companies, until she was injured while on duty.

“Shelving fell on me one day, and I hurt my arm and my back. It was a fight that I took to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, as the company refused to pay my doctors bills, so I left retail to be a stay-at-home mom after I had my daughter, who is now 8 years old.”

She then went on to study project management, office management and computer basics, but found that a desk-bound office job was not for her.

“I worked for a company doing their internal quotes, but I couldn’t sit in the office all day. I am a people’s person – I love people, and I love being up-and-down. I missed the restaurant.”

Kauthar said the management of Spur then asked her to come back as a hostess because they knew her work ethic.

“They knew I was loyal and punctual, and I always go beyond the call of duty. I loved working at the restaurant because I loved working with people.”

After a month, she was promoted to a waitron. “It’s such a fulfilling job when it comes to meeting people. We have customers from all walks of life, and I have people come in personally asking for me to serve them.”

She said she often spends hours after work talking to her customers, before heading back home, or sometimes enjoying the city’s night life at her favourite spots in Long Street.

“I love being in Cape Town. I don’t ever feel unsafe. I come from a crime-ridden area. People working here are lucky that it doesn’t rain bullets every so often.”

She said while she loves the city centre, she wouldn’t move here as she loves travelling.

“It’s constantly busy – I love the hustle and bustle and trek to the city everyday.” Another highlight of her day is her “street children” – three boys who frequent Strand Street.

“They wait for me after work, and I often buy them bread, or sweets and lollipops when I get extra tips. They also bring me fruits and things when they have.”

She said that while others complain about the aggressive begging, she has sympathy for people living on the streets, especially the children.

“I don’t mind the street people, because you never know what brought them to this point. I also have a son, and to see the children on the street is heartbreaking.”

The soft spot for the homeless people also stems from the fact that Kauthar’s half-brother also lives on the streets of the city. 

“Sometimes he visits me at my workplace and kisses me on my cheek, which is often frowned upon, but he is my brother, and I help him in any way I can. I’m also glad that I work at a place where he can find me when he needs help.”

Asked about the food scene in town, Kauthar said that although it is booming, there is a space for everyone.

“A new restaurant pops up in the city almost every day, but people still enjoy the likes of Spur and Wimpy, to name a few of the old favourites. There’s a space for everyone here.”