Eating out: Black women get bad service

The impressive new edition of Rossouw’s Restaurant Guide is about to be launched. It offers the broadest range of reviews – from shisa nyamas and takeaway joints to family restaurants and top-end luxury dining.

According to its editor, Anna Trapido, an anthropologist turned foodie, the big trend for next year is KwaZulu-Natal.

While all the focus is on the food fight between Joburg and Cape Town, Durban has emerged as the jewel when it comes to eating out.

It also offers the best service with professional waiters in abundance, says Trapido. And that’s another big trend she encountered this year: our service is pretty bad – especially if you’re a black woman.

Trapido became aware that her black female reviewers were reporting being treated worse than reviewers of any other demographic. These women did not know each other and did not collate their experiences. They were not announced as reviewers and paid for their meals, so they were just regular customers.

“If you have 300 restaurant experiences in front of you, you start seeing national patterns,” Trapido told #Trending.

“Young black women consistently report that they stand at the foyer waiting for someone to help them and nobody does.

“Over and over again they will say ‘I got seated behind a pillar’. Which comes up as being a pain because if, for instance, you’re waiting for your friend and you’re seated behind a pillar, then your friend can’t see you.

“So for this reason, they are quite often asking to be moved, in a way that white reviewers of either gender are not,” says Trapido.

“Much more than average, young black women will, for instance, receive a chipped cup. And it’s not an issue that other reviewers are reporting – sometimes other reviewers will experience good service, sometimes it’s bad service, but it doesn’t seem to be this endless kind of pattern.

“And it crosses genres of restaurant. It’s happening just as much in township shisa nyamas as it’s happening in fancy restaurants in Sandton.”

The fact that restaurants are treating their black female clientele so poorly seems counterproductive, says Trapido.

“It’s very odd, seeing that young black women are surely the last market that is still unsaturated.

“Really, what restaurateurs ought to be doing is being very nice to young black women.”

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