Bringing New Taste to the Townships
Inspired to change the fact that there is a huge shortage of sit-down restaurants in Durban’s townships, as well as to bridge the gap in the food industry in these areas, sizwe Zulu, together with his childhood friend, lindo linda, opened INK Foods on 29 November 2016 at the Big Box in Kwamashu. The name INK is an acronym for Durban’s three major townships – Inanda, Ntuzuma, and Kwamashu – whose people Zulu and linda wanted to “wow” with their restaurant.
“Being a foodie, every time I wanted to eat out I had to leave the township to find a good sit-down restaurant. This really bothered me. I also noticed that it wasn’t only me, but a whole lot of other township people,” Zulu explains.
According to him, the three features that make INK Foods unique is its look, location, and the experience diners have there.
when it comes to the aesthetic, INK Foods is certainly not like your average restaurant – it is built out of converted shipping containers. “we designed the restaurant to have a rustic look. we also incorporated artworks of three local icons: John Dube, academic and first president of the ANC; actress leleti Khumalo, who played the lead in Sarafina; and Busi Mhlongo, internationally renowned music artist.”
INK Foods is, according to Zulu, “Definitely not something you will anticipate finding in Kwamashu.” The experience of sitting down for a bite at the trendy eatery also doesn’t disappoint. “when people come to INK Foods, they are blown away by the overall experience they receive.”
These three features are clearly working, as INK Foods has become extremely popular since opening. Zulu also attributes this to the restaurant’s team, and, of course, the delicious food. “The support we have received from our customers has been epic. when consumers come to INK Foods, the first thing they do is take out the phone to check in and take photos for social media. This has really helped with getting the brand out there.”
Zulu’s passion is definitely another feature that has attributed to the success of his venture, as INK Foods has been self-funded and required a lot of personal sacrifice.
linda, with whom Zulu opened INK Foods, is a professional chef who has gained a respected reputation in south Africa and internationally. Zulu went through quite a career change when deciding to change lanes and go the hospitality route – he had previously worked in the motor industry for five years.
“lindo runs the kitchen, making sure the quality of food served is up to standard each day. I run the front of house and make sure that our customers are completely satisfied with their overall experience. I’m very customerorientated – I love people. Getting to serve and interact with customers must be the best part of my job.”
when it comes to the speed bumps along the way for Zulu and the INK Foods team, he says that their location is a double-edged sword – while they are unique in the area, sourcing supplies has proven challenging. “since we located in the township, many suppliers don’t want to deliver to us since no one else orders within the area.”
According to Zulu, when diners come into INK Foods, “we want to exceed their expectations by providing the same standard of service and food that people get in urban restaurants in Durban – to the extent that they forget they’re in Kwamashu.”
INK Foods specialises in mouth-watering comfort food. “our burgers are something to write home to mama about. Burger Yolova (guy’s burger) and the Blesser Burger are winners and jam-packed with flavour.”
Regarding the future of INK Foods and whether Zulu and his team hope to expand, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Zulu would like to, with investments, open more INK Foods restaurants in more central locations, bringing the INK Foods flavour and passion to more people.
“The Kwamashu restaurant is our pilot project to see if people like what we sell, and to build brand awareness. Customers have approved the product and they like what we sell.” Not surprising, as along with their jawbusting burgers and flavourful pizzas, INK Foods offers diners the option of washing it all down with an impressive doughnuttopped milkshake.
The pilot has certainly taken off and reached impressive heights.
For more information, follow INK Foods on Facebook at @inkfoods031.