The Radium Beer Hall, known as “Joburg’s oldest running bar” — there are older bars, but none of them have remained open continuously for as long as the Radium — is not a new destination for me. I’ve been there several times over the years for beer and/or pizza, but somehow I had never gotten around to blogging about it. And since the Radium is one of the places featured in the Hidden Johannesburg book, and I’ve made a commitment to visit and blog about all of those places, I think it’s finally time to put the Radium on the 2Summers map.
History of the Radium Beer Hall
The Radium was founded in 1929 as a tea room, so it was not technically a bar at that time. But according to this great article in New Frame, the tea room had a secret shebeen (informal tavern) at the back. The establishment obtained a legal liquor license in 1942, when it was purchased by a local soccer player and turned into a billiards room and bar.
Manny Cabeleira bought the Radium in 1986, which is when it became the place that we all know today: a Portuguese restaurant, music venue, and beloved local pub for the diverse neighborhood of Orange Grove.
Manny Cabeleira was a legendary figure with a reputation for progressive political views and great taste in music. He ran the Radium for 35 years until his death in June 2021. The Radium is now run by Manny’s wife, Lina Cabeleira, and her cat, Mr. Grey, who lives at the bar.
Lunch at the Radium
Thorsten and I went to the Radium for lunch last Saturday. I had eaten pizza there before but I’d never tried the Portuguese food — it was really tasty and well priced.
The Radium continues to host really great musical acts, quiz nights, rugby-watching, etc. Follow their Facebook page for updates.
Browse all my Hidden Joburg posts here. More to come soon.