Bring­ing New Taste to the Town­ships

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

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.

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