City Beat: Low cost restaurants vibrant but…

Restless, Jackie Mutoni paces around, one can read on her face that she is either figuring out something or waiting for someone. Whatever it is, God knows but she seems very impatient. On seeing one of her servants surface with a pail full of water and a mopping brush, she relaxes. Blaming her for delaying, she appreciates the fact that customers weren’t yet here to find the place that dirty.
Low cost restaurants have many disadvantages.
Low cost restaurants have many disadvantages.

Restless, Jackie Mutoni paces around, one can read on her face that she is either figuring out something or waiting for someone. Whatever it is, God knows but she seems very impatient.

On seeing one of her servants surface with a pail full of water and a mopping brush, she relaxes. Blaming her for delaying, she appreciates the fact that customers weren’t yet here to find the place that dirty.

Mutoni owns a low grade eatery in Remera {Giporoso}. Such restaurants are all over Remera, Nyabugogo, Gashyata, Kicyukiro, to mention but a few.

Designed with many seats and tables, custormers squeeze through the tinny place to get seats. As I try to appreciate the place’s neatness, I catch a glimpse of the fans hanging up.

They are a sooty black colour from their formerly white selves. I am told this is as a result of the smoke from the kitchen. This gets me wondering about the difficulties these restaurant operators go through. However, Mutoni seems unperturbed.

“I am satisfied with my business, after all it’s not a white collar job that I should expect much,” says Mutoni when asked about the fans. She excuses herself to see if food is ready.

“You know traditionally cooked bananas take long to get ready,” she says over her shoulder.

I am still at the restaurant by noon as customers flood it. The three waitresses run to and fro the kitchen serving the seemingly overwhelming number of clients. I am surprised that the food here tastes just like that in of the high class restaurants!

Expecting a plate of food to go for at least Rwf2000, I am surprised to learn it costs only Rwf700. This is a full meal, a variety of foods, beef and vegetables served alongside fruits.

On cross checking with other similar restaurants, I find out that the charges are in that same range and that milk tea goes for only Rwf100.

On the other hand, middle-class restaurants charge between Rwf 2500 and 3000 for a buffet while it is as high as Rwf10, 000 or more in major hotels.

Logically, anyone who would want to save would dash to the low cost restaurants. After all only the prices differ but the food tastes similar. However, that’s not the case.

As the customers eat, one complains about how hot the place is. His neighbour advises him to play it cool since they have no option. Curious about their complaints I ask for the reason that brings them here, where it’s uncomfortable. 

Christopher Mucunguzi, a taxi driver, says this is the kind of restaurant he can afford given his monthly pay. He added that though affordable, these low cost restaurants may at times pose health risks.

“I take de-worming tablets on a monthly basis,” he discloses.

“The last time I went to such a restaurant I got typhoid which cost me a lot,” says Jean Claude Gwiza whose new year’s resolution is to avoid cheap restaurants.

“What I distaste is the milk tea that smells of smoke,” says Mucunguzi. Amidst all the complaints, Mutoni is relaxed knowing she can never fail to get customers.

“They have no option,” she says. She earns Rwf50, 000 a day which she uses to purchase the following days’ food.

This might be great for Mutoni and others in her league. However, there is need for more vigilance in ensuring health standards are maintained. One should be confident enough to eat from there without worrying about de-worming or catching typhoid.

Contact: lillianean@yahoo.com

 

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