Vintage Shisha Bar décor sets new trend
LEGEND has it that, at one time, the old Exchange Bar in the central business district of Bulawayo had the longest bar counter in Africa. In fact, it holds a record of being the oldest licenced pub in the country.
Now that the pub is running under a new name — Vintage Shisha Bar, there is more that draws the urban reveller to the new, trendy joint. The pub is managed by young entrepreneur Rejoice Mafukidze who has since established herself as a showbiz mogul who knows high-class service that caters for the high society.
Mafukidze prides herself in managing Zimbabwe’s oldest licenced bar, who tradition is world acclaimed.
Mafukidze set out to refurbish the joint. She decided to rope in respected visual artist and designer Knox Chimbetete. The hatched a plan to give the new Vintage Shisha Bar an awesome contemporary look.
There have been many new pubs in the city but so far none matches the interior décor and ambience at Vintage Shisha.
A walk into the pub will surely puzzle a patron who was once a regular at the old fashioned Exchange Bar. On entry, now, one is met by an aromatic feel. The bar, famous for its length, still stands but has undergone a tremendous makeover.
Velvet couches, high end teak tables and prompt calls by waiters is an enough welcome to hospitality.
That new look has got people packing the pub, but as Mafukidze would explain, the right of admission is reserved for the well to do reveller.
“We have turned Vintage Shisha Bar to attract clients that want quiet and tranquil at the heart of Bulawayo busiest street.”
As one sits to order a drink, they can notice how the wooden wallboard has been re-sprayed. Typical of a safari setup, Vintage Shisha Bar has camping bar stools that remind one of the times when hunters and gold dealers used to patronise the place in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Mixing a bit of visual art appeal, monochrome pictures and a few coloured ones hung on the walls. This brought a boisterous, yet friendly atmosphere to a place that was previously in ruin.
Mafukidze and Chimbetete thought well of keeping the gorgeously panelled bar and its hunting memorabilia intact so as to preserve the pub’s history.
Chimbetete said when they were conceptualising the design process, they agreed to maintain the bar’s Anglo style and fuse in present-day art.
“This place was known as Exchange Bar but now it’s called Vintage Shisha Bar. So there was bound to be a change in style and in how we redesign it. In the days gone by, the English loved the pub because of its rich historical lure. We preserved that and also added more of modern African art that tells a story of the city and the country.
“Surely anyone who enters, feels at home and appreciates the new look,” said the revered artist who also designed one of Mafukidze’s businesses — Backroom Shisha Lounge at Bradfield Shopping Complex.
At the far end of the bar, Chimbetete and Mafukidze made splendid work to a space that previously was an eyesore. For introverts who want privacy while listening to jazz music, this is the part of the pub to be at.
Mafukidze described the second bar as a peaceful space under the veil of white curtained cubicles.
“We decided to design the second bar differently so as to cater for that customer who wants to drink in a secluded area. It is like having two spots in one pub. My idea is to serve the kind of patron who does not want noise, one who buys his drinks and chills out,” said Mafukidze.
Since its opening in March, Vintage Shisha has hosted a lot of jazz musicians much to the appreciation of patrons.
Afro jazz muso Victor Kunonga is a regular at the pub and is one artiste who has pledged to entertain Bulawayo residents and visitors at any given time.
Award winning songstress Selmor Mtukudzi has done a couple of sessions too. Bulawayo musicians The Cool Crooners, DJ Skaiva and the crowd pulling Djembe Monks have headlined the ultra-smart bar in its six months of opening.