Before you read any further, the pop quiz question is; “Which Port Elizabeth Restaurant, established in 1965, has only moved once and is still owned by the same family?”
This popular restaurant originally occupied premises on Elizabeth Street – just off of Main Street (now Govan Mbeki Avenue) and moved to Walmer in the late 1990?s. It has been continually in the hands of one family since 1965.
Our family have been regular and faithful patrons for almost as long as the restaurant has been existence. Regulars greet each other by name and are welcomed as honoured members of an extended family.
Some of our memories include:
- Whilst the owners were busy in the kitchen the phone in the restaurant would ring and one of the diners would get up to answer it. The diner would turn to the other diners and ask; “Is their space for one more table?” and the diners would roar back; “NO, we are full!”
- On a Tuesday we would phone to book and tell old Mrs Whitely that we wanted to come at 8:00 pm and she would tell us; “No, No, No, you come now, we watch TV at 8:00!” and we would meekly change our plans to suit her.
- I introduced the Longhair to this restaurant in order that we may sample their crispy fried prawns. The day that I did so was a Saturday Lunchtime. At the time I didn’t realise that they weren’t open for lunch but had just barged in. Peter and Verna didn’t say a word but prepared the most amazing meal for us in a completely empty restaurant. To this day the Longhair tells all and sundry that the crispy fried prawns made by Peter are the best ever.
- One of our table tried to open a window in the old restaurant and managed to break the handle – From then on old Mrs Whitely always acknowledged me as that ‘Naughty Boy’ who ‘broke my window’.
Of course you must have guessed which restaurant I am talking about, by now – The Canton Chinese Restaurant. The Canton was established in 1965 by Peter Whitely’s father and has been in the family to this day. With the passing of his parents, Peter and Verna now run this Port Elizabeth institution.
We went back to The Canton Chinese Restaurant on Sunday for my Mother’s birthday and were well impressed. The food is cooked fresh to order, not oily and certainly enough to fill a hungry tummy.
Highlights of the meal were the sweet and sour pork, chicken soup and the company. Peter even did specific diabetic friendly versions of each of his dishes for my Mother – great service.
My only concern is that payment is cash or cheque only – no cards. This could be something that stops a lot of older patrons from visiting as often as they would like, what with the risk of carrying cash around.
Contact: The Canton Chinese Restaurant.