Street food on the tip of our tongues

Informal food joints are giving more established restaurants a run for their money, a survey over the festive season has established.

Places like Wimpy in down town Harare have had to modify their menu to attract customers.
Places like Wimpy in down town Harare have had to modify their menu to attract customers.

Vendors in the capital have established outlets such as Kwa Mereki in Warren Park Shopping Centre, Kwa Gazaland in Highfield, Pa Ziko in Chitungwiza, Kwa Bambo in Glen Norah and Pa Zindoga in Waterfalls to mention a few.

During the Christmas period these places were packed with people making plans for the New Year over beer and food.

The dollarization of the economy has made it possible for such community initiatives to take off and, with so many Diasporans coming home for the December holidays, the food joints did a roaring trade.

Some of the eateries even ran out of food, encouraging party goers to do a tour of the other informal cafes.

Following the outbreak of cholera in 2009, these food outlets have had to up their hygiene standards. With the burgeoning population in the high density suburbs, and the high quality of cuisine on offer at the informal takeaways, established restaurants don’t stand a chance of competing.

Run by entrepreneurial individuals who listen to the needs and wants of their customers, the food outlets are set up close to beer halls, night clubs, bottle stores and car washes to attract the maximum amount of people. While the overall feeling is that the street cafes are providing a very valuable service, it is necessary for the government to closely monitor the standards under which they are operating.

It is almost impossible for the vendors to refrigerate anything, and there is a need for accountability to ensure that the health of customers is protected.

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