Back in 2007, GOLD Restaurant in Cape Town was started when owner, Cindy Muller, decided she wanted to showcase Africa to visitors in a sophisticated and unique way. She wanted to do away with the stereotypical image of Africa being a poor and hungry continent! However, to experience the entire African continent and its cuisine in one evening would be an impossible task. Cindy also knew that most of the traditional dishes from countries in Africa would be unfamiliar to most travellers. Hence her idea of an African feast was born!
The African feast at GOLD Restaurant
The idea is that when you feast, you have a celebration and that’s what Cindy wanted the experience at GOLD to be – a celebration of Africa and all the good things about this continent. The food is one of the things, but there was also the art, the craft and of course the music and the voices.
Showcasing Africa as part of a dinner experience
So a djembe drumming experience was an obvious choice to start the evening off at GOLD Restaurant. Drumming connects you to your ancient soul and there is nothing more African than the sound of the djembe drum. The set feast which was “bottomless” and unique African entertainment, which encompassed North, Central and South Africa, rounded up the experience.
A journey to GOLD in Cape Town
Once Cindy had the concept together, she had to find suitable premises. Which she did, at the V&A Waterfront. Fortunately, she lost out on these premises, and on the day that she was told was driving in Strand Street and looked at the Heritage building which housed the Gold of Africa Museum. After many negotiations, Cindy and her husband Jan, secured the courtyards behind the museum for their restaurant.
That’s where the name actually came from – GOLD. The African restaurant operated out of the ancient courtyards and stretch tents and a sliding roof for five years, eventually outgrowing the space there.
A new home for GOLD Restaurant
Cindy and Jan knew the owners of our current venue in Bennett Street who were looking for a restaurant partner and she moved the entire operation from the Gold Museum to the new restaurant in one day. The restaurant did not even stop operating! The team finished off decorating dining rooms during the day and had the restaurant ready for the evening. It was stressful but everyone pulled together. With no budget for the move, the team also had to be very creative in the way they decorated the space. Having come from a natural environment surrounded by trees and tents, they had no décor!
As the restaurant grew, they moved into more space in the building and eventually took over the entire 1600 square metre venue five years ago. This move gave GOLD Restaurant a unique function venue in Cape Town where we can host private functions, events, and conferences. Three years ago, Cindy bought both buildings from the landlords so the tenure in Bennett Street is secure.
The future of Cape Town’s favorite African restaurant
Having grown the business steadily over the past 14 years, to see it being crushed during this pandemic has been completely devastating. To witness the suffering of all the staff at GOLD has been shattering. To have lost a dear staff member broke the team. And yet, we have also witnessed resilience, perseverance, and Ubuntu in its true sense. This pandemic has given the team time to reflect, to spend with families, to connect on a different level with each other.
It has given the team time to reflect on how and why we do this and stay in this industry which is absolutely people-focused. This industry that you cannot operate in isolated and at home. Where smiles and hugs are important. Where connections and shared experience are vital.
How do we not loose these values in the Next Normal? This is the next challenge.