The City’s Only South African Restaurant and Bar

Tuesday, 19 October, 2021
The New Yorker, David Kortava
Kaia Wine Bar, Suzaan Hauptfleisch’s Upper East Side institution, serves South African wine alongside elk, bobotie, Gatsby sandwiches, and bunny chow.

If New York City is a graveyard of unrealized dreams, it’s also a maze of hidden passageways leading to new rooms, where one can reinvent oneself in the wake of thwarted ambitions. In the early two-thousands, an aspiring stage actress named Suzaan Hauptfleisch left South Africa for Manhattan. Broadway never called, and this town’s culinary scene is all the better for it. The city has seven thousand four hundred and thirty working actors. It has exactly one South African restaurant and bar: Hauptfleisch’s Kaia, an Upper East Side institution that, in its eleven years, has supplied New Yorkers with 7.2 million dollars’ worth of South African wine, mostly by the glass.

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