Champ’s Action Bar is located on the quiet street, Scott’s Avenue, just off High St. It’s conveniently located close to restaurants, shops and other bars in the area, and is open from Midday to Midnight on weekdays and 2:00 am over the weekend. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
On 7 June 2016, a patron orders a refreshing Hansa Pilsner while he watches a re-run of the SA vs Ireland rugby game on the TV screen above the bar. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
Champ’s bartender, Zan Bothma pours a Castle draft. Bothma knows her regulars well and is familiar with their drink preferences. This friendliness and intimacy contributes to Champ’s chilled vibe. “[It’s the] only place in town I can go and chill during the day and then some,” says St John Richie, a Grahamstown local. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
Bartenders, like waitresses, make a significant amount of their income from tips. Being friendly and helpful with customers is an important part of the job. Tips are shared between the two waitresses, Zan Bothma and Danielle Durandt at the end of the night. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
Champ’s Action Bar is in Grahamstown and just a five-minute walk from Rhodes University. Students love the chilled atmosphere and reasonable prices and specials, such R10 Shooters on Tuesdays. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
Champ’s has something to offer everyone. Entrants of the pool competition watch intensely as one game of the tournament ends and another just begins. Meanwhile, Rhodes University student, Johan Harmse walks by a row of patrons remaining fixated on the Australia vs West Indies cricket match. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
Kevin Moss, Michael Repapis and Kyle Snow are regulars at Champ’s. Mike is a local business owner and owns a butchery in town which Kyle manages. Champ’s is one of their favourite spots in town to just relax and grab a drink. © Thandiwe Matyobeni.
The pool competition is open to anyone, whether you’re an expert or just a beginner. “The competitions are great fun, your level of skill doesn’t matter and we would love to introduce you to our pool family,” says manager, JC Bonici. © Thandiwe Matyobeni
On 7 June 2016 at Champ’s Action Bar, Grahamstown, the crowd watches intensely as the last game of pool for night commences. Only sixteen players participate in the competition. The Top 3 players get prizes. Champ’s hosts a Champion Tournament in November. © Thandiwe Matyobeni
At midnight, the night ends and everyone stumbles home. Everyone except Champ’s staff, bartender, Zan Bothma and manager JC Bonnici, who stay behind to clean up and night. © Thandiwe Matyobeni
Zan Bothma counts the tips and cashes up at the end of her shift. Champ’s is open until midnight on weekdays and until 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays. © Thandiwe Matyobeni
Tuesday Night is Pool Comp night at Champ’s Action Bar, and every student in town knows that that means R10 shooters and a great vibe. The competition is open to anyone and the Top 3 winners get prizes. “The competitions are great fun, your level of skill doesn’t matter and we would love to introduce you to our pool family,” says manager, JC Bonici.
Scott’s Avenue, the quiet street where Champ’s is located, comes alive on these nights, as well as every weekend. The combination of pool and sport on the three television sets is great not only for students, but for locals and permanent residents alike, making for an interesting and diverse atmosphere. “[It’s the] only place in town I can go and chill during the day and then some,” says St John Richie, a Grahamstown local.
Although every night must be a unique experience, being a bartender is not an easy job, and it seems as though everyone is familiar with Zan Bothma and Danielle Durandt, bartenders at Champ’s. Customers range from first years asking for a glass of water for their drunk friends, to small business-owners who have been regulars since they moved to Grahamstown years ago. Local butchery owner, Michael Repapis, smiles as Bothma passes him is drink. “You pour a good brew,” he adds before downing a mouthful.
So much more goes into running a bar than the average patron would think. General manager, JC Bonnici, helps local performers by using the venue for concerts, usually letting musicians keep the cover charge.
Another highlight of the week in Grahamstown is Champ’s Saturday night karaoke enjoyed by young and old alike.