Full disclosure: the entry discussing Sanette Groenewald’s Karoo Kafe will be inherently biased, because it’s consistently been among our favorite restaurants here since it opened in 2002. (That’s not the editorial “us”; that’s me and my husband Scott.) How often in any American town can you get casual South African food prepared by a chef who had her own restaurant in Cape Town for two years? And get it at reasonable prices, in an inviting and imaginative little dining room, with friendly, pleasant service?
Of course, the story of No. 338 begins long before Groenewald arrived. The small front-yard store, now occupied by Judy Ann Slattery’s jewelry store, Wampum Etc., for many years housed the business of Justin Soares Jason (±1865-1947), whom The Advocate described as the “oldest and most picturesque of Provincetown’s cobblers.” Harry Kemp composed a lovely memorial poem, The Old Shoemaker, after Jason died. In part, it read:
The old shoemaker is gone.
The shoes he made were good shoes made entire
By hand and awl and thread plied, diligent.
His canaries that sang and bred in cages hung
About the room, are sold.
His shop is dismantled.
The old stove like a grieved thing stands cold.
In that quaint, one-roomed shop
Men sat talking sparely; he would put in
A word of wisdom now and then, sure, practiced
As his stitching, his quick hammer.
His was a voyaging mind, a pilot’s thought
And quenchless fire of an undaunted heart.
The old shoemaker is gone!
Groenewald (b ±1967), a South African native, worked for three summers at the Dancing Lobster before opening Karoo Kafe, named for a region of the Western Cape, in 2002. Her partner in the project is Patricia Medina. Karoo’s startup season was followed in a series by Jack Perry of The Cape Cod Times (26 May, 23 June, 11 August, 15 September, with a follow-up visit on 7 September 2004), allowing outsiders an unusually glimpse into the perils and hardships of starting a new business, especially one that has to make almost all of its annual revenue in only three months of the year.
The other business at No. 338 is M. G. Leather of Provincetown, which takes its initials from the proprietor, Myra Gold. The business, established in 1992, specializes in gear, equipment and accessories for BDSM: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.