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Soweto eatery revs up for drive-in dining to survive the pandemic

Roadhouse dining also catching on at Ocean Basket franchises in KZN, Limpopo

07 July 2021 - 07:00 By kgaugelo masweneng
Disoufeng restaurant in Soweto has jumped on the bandwagon of roadhouse dining.
Disoufeng restaurant in Soweto has jumped on the bandwagon of roadhouse dining.
Image: Supplied

A Soweto restaurant has revved up its offerings and started doing roadhouse dining to stay in business during the lockdown level 4 restrictions.

The restaurant industry has been heavily impacted by the current Covid-19 regulations forbidding the sale of alcohol and gatherings and an earlier curfew. Sit-down dining has also been banned under the restrictions.

Disoufeng, an African cuisine eatery in Meadowlands, had to adapt to stay relevant to its market while also sticking to the rules.

Benny Diphoko, speaking on behalf of the restaurant, said they picked up the roadhouse concept online.

“We always keep our ears and eyes open and we came across the concept of the roadhouse dining experience. We saw an opportunity since restaurants are not allowed to do sit-downs. We have a big parking space and our patrons can easily enjoy their food.

“What made this important is that most of our staff members were sitting at home, so this opens up a way to keep the business going. They now have something to put on the table. It’s not a big chunk of money we're making, but we stay open,” Diphoko said.

He said this was the best option to accommodate their patrons. “We’re getting a good response from our customers. We have people from all over asking how we are doing it. We do our best to practice social distancing and follow safety measures.”

The eatery is popular for its “Mogodu Monday” special.

“We have an extensive menu. Some items are for sitting, while others accommodate the takeaway method. Locally [Soweto], we’re the only restaurants going this route. Our customers are loyal to the brand and that is encouraging.”

The method has been noticed by the owners of the Ocean Basket franchise in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo.

Ocean Basket CEO Grace Harding said it was exciting to see fresh ideas to try to stay open during the lockdown.

“One of our franchises started a roadhouse last week because they have a big parking area. We shared the idea with others and the Umhlanga branch [in KwaZulu-Natal] is doing well,” Harding said.

“It’s not going to save the industry. It’s not a strategic thing but it shows some people will keep pushing and find something positive and fun. Ocean Basket is not turning into a roadhouse.

“There’s no real money because they had to buy the serving boards and takeaway boxes.”