Toasted is a women-led community and collaboration space in the heart of Rosebank, Johannesburg - that also happens to make the best-toasted sandwiches in town.
As the tagline suggests, Toasted and its space were conceptualised to have many functions for its community: casual dining, co-working, eventing and collaboration between like-minded, small businesses. An important aspect of the Toasted brand is the experience the space provides in its hidden courtyard. Even though it sits on one of the busiest streets in Joburg, it is private, tranquil and built with function in mind without compromising on design and finish.
The outside area was initially meant to have a modular feel that allowed for multiple functions, but the budget was a challenge as well as navigating having furniture that could withstand the rainy Joburg summer. With the team from Not Ordinary Interior (NOI), Marea landed on creating a concrete structure with different seating options and allowed for four power outlets and greenery. Not modular, but still multi-functional, durable and beautiful.
Rosebank falls in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg which is synonymous with being higher-end retail, but given the price point of the menu, the stylised space instantly becomes accessible to more people. A believer in sweating one's assets, Marea also designed the interior and exterior around the concept of co-working, so multiple plug points inside and outside, as well as a private boardroom area are two of Toasted’s drawcards to bring in weekday customers.
Opening a restaurant is a bold enough endeavour, but few can claim to have developed the concept and signed a lease agreement three days before the entire country went into a level five lockdown in a global pandemic. The pandemic solidified to Marea and the team at NOD that the direction they were heading in would be supported by the newly evolving culture of remote working, open spaces that still feel intimate, and creating an affordable yet high-end experience.
In a landscape where ownership is hard to attain for small businesses, Toasted has introduced a very shared business model which allows for collaboration across different brands as well as experiences. With this business model at the centre of Marea’s thinking, the space also lends itself to other small businesses in need of a space to bring their ideas to life. Joburg is bursting with entrepreneurs and startups and opening Toasted up to others has allowed for collaborations with other women-led initiatives such as Beijing Opera, International Hub for Entrepreneurial Programmes at the Goethe Instituut, and local, women-led movie screening evenings, to name a few.
While the city, country and world’s futures remain uncertain, what is certain is Toasted’s unwavering determination to serve the surrounding community and remain a creative, cultural, collaborative space that is also aesthetically beautiful.