Someone once told me, that all we can sell is service, not food. And after a series of encounters with different Ugandan restaurants, I have surely come to believe the truth in the statement.
You know, a predominate number of Ugandans have a tendency to accept the situation around, no scratch that, ignore the situation around them. This goes for food and restaurants too. Ever wondered why “local” restaurants in interesting locations, some called “tonyinyira” survive and have very loyal customers compared to a number of fancy restaurants around. It’s the service that a one mama Nakamaki gives her customers, that leaves an impression and keeps them coming back even when they cannot disclose to their peers, where this amazing local restaurant they go to is.
Last week I went to one of my favourite restaurants, I mean their food is great, and to me, that’s a priority. But it was not the same. As I walked in, hoping my meal would take as little time to make as possible, I was approached by a smiling waiter, who welcomed me and handed me a menu. As he stood and waited for me to make my mind about my order, I gave him a signal of, “give me some space, so I make up my mind privately” with a smile of course, which thank God he was smart enough to understand. I knew what I wanted and I quickly made up my mind and called him back.
As I waited rather impatiently for the meal, I started to notice everything around me, the place was dirtier, less organised than I remember and the tip of the cake was a lady sited on a table in front of mine, yelling someone’s name in the kitchen, rather louder than civil. By the air around her, I knew she was probably the manager. Right next to her was a pile of forks and napkins that she was trying to organise in an unprofessional way, I was bothered by her folding of the napkin and I murmured words like, you are doing it wrong. Any way to get back to the point, this was a table in the sitting area, where we the customers are sited too, it was even more alarming as a waiter who was probably from the same village area approached her, and she laughed loudly and they had a loud conversation giggling. It looked like a market place like it was her homestead or something, I thought to myself and said that I would say something about it.
So as my waiter came back with the order, I told him that this was not a kitchen area and that table putting things together can shift to a back room or something. His expression quickly turned from shocked to embarrassed. I went on telling him that the food being good was not enough to sell them and some people will walk in, look at the place and leave without even thinking twice. He of course apologised and told me that the lady was a manager, in a torn of scared more than respect for her. We continued the conversation and I asked him to inform her, as I walked out.
So people please say something about a situation you see, we have guests that come to our country and are shocked at what we settle for. We deserve the best of life and great service and ambience are a few of those. Am yet to get back to the restaurant and see progress.