Vin­tage Shisha Bar dé­cor sets new trend

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Soccer Cricket Sport - Nkosi­lathi Sibanda Sun­day Life Re­porter

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.

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