Bid for better Bot Gardens eatery

2014-05-20 00:00

THE Botanical Gardens restaurant is set for a shake-up to improve its service to its loyal Pietermaritzburg customers.

At a meeting held at the gardens last week with South African National Biodiversity Institute management and members of the public, the need for improvement at the restaurant was discussed.

With the reopening of the restaurant, the Sisipho Strelitzia, under new owner Nompilo Sisipho Ngcobo, it was felt that the establishment should grow its clientele.

The meeting addressed complaints about the current state of the restaurant at the Botanical Gardens.

Regular visitors to the garden had a litany of complaints about the restaurant being “out of sync with the ethos of the Botanical Gardens” under the previous owners.

They raised the loss of the original tea garden as one of the things they wanted to be addressed.

The committee heard suggestions that the current staff members should be given training to polish their hospitality skills to ensure diners were offered excellent service.

The meeting also proposed using the restaurant as a depot for organic and free-range produce. Those present highlighted the importance of visitors to the restaurant being given great service because people in Pietermaritzburg were “unforgiving”.

Ngcobo was told that it was important to ensure that the restaurant did not attract negative publicity because it would reflect badly on the gardens.

They also wanted to ensure that the service at the restaurant would win back those whom the gardens may have lost due to previous bad experiences there.

“This was a good meeting aimed at discussing a turnaround strategy to ensure that our visitors at both the restaurant and gardens are satisfied with how we do things,” said Ngcobo, who took over the restaurant in the past six months.

She said she has been in the hospitality industry for 10 years and has studied for an International Hotel Management Diploma (obtained in 2005) at Varsity College.

“I love food and I want people to come and enjoy it while looking at the beautiful scenery at the garden,” she said.

“I want this to be one of the best, family friendly restaurants in town, which is one of the Botanical Garden’s themes,” said Ngcobo.

She said, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating and that is the only way people will know what the restaurant and the garden is all about — if they visit.”

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