In a move that is testament to how critical the township economy has become to the empowerment of South Africans, while still recognising their unique cultural heritage, popular Gauteng-based Imbizo Shisanyama recently opened its third venue in the newly launched Mall of Thembisa.
The brand new member of the Imbizo Shisanyama family is described as the home of legends and afropolitans, a modern, sophisticated, and elegant venue.
In an interview with the founder, Rita Zwane, she said the new venue boasts ample parking for patrons and delivers an innovative rooftop experience, Phezulu Lounge, that leaves one breathless.
Zwane said together with its siblings, the new venue remains true to the brand promise of ensuring that patrons’ enjoyment of Africa’s ultimate braai experience remains unchallenged.
“I had a dream of a restaurant that would celebrate the true African heritage and culture, where people could, as is our tradition, braai quality meat and receive excellent service in an environment that exuded style, class, and dignity. This has not been an easy journey with many challenges needing to be overcome along the way. This is especially true in a male-dominated industry where I needed to show dedication, perseverance, and commitment.
“Having a clear vision has highlighted how anything is possible regardless of these obstacles. If I can distil the secret to the brand’s success in one sentence, it is in our deep understanding of African culture and heritage which has earned the fierce loyalty of our patrons,” she said.
Zwane said when the managing director of McCormick Property Developments (MPD), Jason McCormick approached her with this opportunity, it was the culmination of a dream she has had since establishing Imbizo Shisanyama in 1997.
Despite all that she has achieved in building the brand, Zwane still has a vision of taking Imbizo Shisanyama internationally to London, New York, and Tokyo.
She said, for her, the journey has centred on commercialising the shisanyama concept and proving that the African culture can be celebrated in not only an economically viable way but also in a way that promotes our sense of being.
“I want to take this and share it with the world. Whether it is New York or London, Tokyo or Paris, the sky’s the beginning for Imbizo Shisanyama. If you can give your patrons a sense of home, of belonging, and culture, they will keep coming back. Not only because the food was excellent and authentic, but because people away from home do not only need to feed their stomachs, but they also need to feed that inner longing for everything that home represents to them,” said Zwane.