Varsity Bakery, one of the capital’s most iconic bakeries and take-away outlets, was established in 1982 by Memos Kavallineas. At that time, his brother Dimitri was living in Canada. To bring his family closer together, Memos invited Dmitri and their sister, Iro Rapanos, to join him in his bakery venture.
Dimitri and Iro accepted, and at first, they served only take-away food and sold grocery items. However, their vision was for the business to evolve into a fully-fledged bakery. Memos enlisted the services of Dutch baker Cor van de Erwe, and a few months later all the equipment they needed to achieve their bakery goal was installed and fully operational.
But there was one more hurdle to overcome. Back then, the wheat-to-bread production chain was highly regulated by the Wheat Board. This meant bakeries had to adhere to strict guidelines regarding the mass of a loaf of bread. This severely limited bakeries’ product ranges. However, after the board was de-regulated in 1997, bakeries were finally able to spread their wings. Few other bakeries grabbed hold of this amazing opportunity. Varsity Bakery, however, took up the creative gauntlet. Memos, Dimitri and Iro expanded the bakery’s product range with fervour.
Varsity Bakery soon became famous for its baked goods and tasty, affordable take-aways. Since its inception, Varsity Bakery has enjoyed a special place in the hearts of hungry students who frequent this Hatfield landmark. In turn, Varsity Bakery has always offered students the opportunity to earn some pocket money behind the bakery’s cash registers.
In 2001, after 19 successful years, the Kavallineas family sold Varsity Bakery. Since then, the bakery has had two more owners, before RussellStone Group acquired it in October 2017 under Varsity Brands. With great care and respect, Varsity Bakery has undertaken a journey to modernise and adapt to the changes in the area as well as the modern student experience.
Our heritage as one of the most famous fast-food restaurants in Pretoria and our direct involvement with student life has made us uniquely aware of the needs, and wants, of most customers that visit the area. We have a constant drive to improve and provide the best products possible to customers, but we are also intensely aware of the nostalgia that comes with being able to buy the same fast food, with the same famous bread and sauce that was bought by students back in the 1980s.
Being situated in the middle of the new student nightlife hub, known as ‘The Strip’, Varsity Bakery has embraced the role of being a safe haven for students on a night out, providing great food at great prices. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the discussion was opened to adapt this as our mission statement and to open a bar that will allow students to enjoy their night-outs in a safe environment.
Moving forward from that idea, and using knowledge from the students themselves, we have designed our bar to be unlike any other bar in terms of the experiences that you will have here. In contrast to the bars around us, we are not going to be hosting live events and we will not be maintaining a dance floor. Instead, we will be focusing more on personal experiences, social games, showing sport games and good food.
Directly on a student safety front, our bar has been designed to accommodate a safe and comfortable environment. We have spent a lot of effort to set up and maintain the correct security measures, for example, the ClearVu that is installed on our deck, which allows movement only from inside the bar, and not to the open public. We have also decided to spend extra effort to hire an amazing bouncer company that we are very confident in. The women’s bathroom is right next to the bar where an attentive eye will be kept, and we are constantly working on measures to ensure that the safety of customers and a comfortable atmosphere can be joined to create a one-of-a-kind experience for both families and students.