Wayside rendezvous: The Doll House Roadhouse in Johannesburg is closing on August 31 after eight decades of service. The new owner’s plan to demolish the building is opposed. Picture: FACEBOOK
Wayside rendezvous: The Doll House Roadhouse in Johannesburg is closing on August 31 after eight decades of service. The new owner’s plan to demolish the building is opposed. Picture: FACEBOOK

The fate of the Doll House Roadhouse building hangs in the balance, with advocates of the iconic eatery hoping to thwart plans to demolish it.

While the roadhouse will shut its doors on August 31, after more than eight decades of serving up its famous milkshakes and slap chips, fans believe the building itself should be left standing to serve the community in a different way.

On July 2, the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority Gauteng issued a notice of intention to demolish the structure.

The last day for public comment on the planned destruction was July 27.

"Before the days of online entertainment, fast-food options on every corner and everyone owning a car, the Doll House was a well-known social outing option," Laureen Bertin, who is leading the campaign to keep the Doll House intact, said on Wednesday. "I … hope there will be no demolition. First, it’s a heritage building. However, it was never declared a heritage site and is therefore vulnerable," she said. The changing face of Louis Botha Avenue could be one of the reasons for the owners’ decision to sell the business, which was established in 1935. The City of Johannesburg has planned six bus rapid-transport stations for the avenue.

The council estimates the area’s population density will increase sixfold. The land running alongside Louis Botha will be rezoned for high-density housing, with developments ranging between two-and eight-storey buildings. Property developers are snapping up land in the area, hoping to catch the wave as it swells.

Bertin said a youth and community centre in the Doll House would match the city’s ideals.

"The rezoning will bring in many families and children. The main original building of the Doll House should become a youth centre for the surrounding area," she said.

"It can easily be linked by a tunnel to the Hilson Park sports fields behind it, which belong to the city and would make a wonderful indoor-outdoor multipurpose space for our youth in the city.

"There can be no more important consideration than that," Bertin said.

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