The winter weather held out on a brilliant Sunday as patrons at Test Kitchen sipped on sparkling wine under the warmth of the midday sun.
The Bubbles, Brunch and Beats event brought a welcome break from evening affairs when one is most tempted to be in the comfort of one’s blankets. Hosted at the quaint eatery in Broadhurst, the atmosphere was equally relaxing and lively.
The Gaborone eventing landscape tends to cater for a young crowd experiencing their twenties and thirties. Even with the change in how people who would otherwise be called “middle-aged” now enjoy their social lives, it appears the entertainment industry is yet to catch on. The brunch affair offered good food, select company and noteworthy service. Guests had the option of purchasing a ticket for a bottle of South African, Haute Cabrière Pierre Jourdan, or French, Veuve Cliquot bubbles to pair with their meal.
Speaking to Beulah Mapitse, the establishment’s manager and owner, she reveals that the event was long in the making, having been derailed by the pandemic. With these delays taken into consideration, Mapitse highlights that “it’s an opportunity for us to welcome back our regular patrons and reintroduce ourselves to them, while also forecasting what is possible in our space”, and “knowing that our primary market doesn’t like noise, we’re showing them that it doesn’t mean they can’t have easy fun”.
As a brand, Test Kitchen has been the stomping ground of 40 and 50-something year olds and set itself apart with its innovative approach to traditional Setswana cuisine. In their reinvention, Mapitse emphasises that their kitchen “will continue to be inspired to experiment with food because it’s in our name – we try, we test, we evolve”.
One would have been hard pressed to notice that the restaurant was working with a diminished staff quotient as loaded ice buckets and trays were planted and plucked from the packed tables. “We’re fortunate to be able to work with casual workers for events,” says Naomi B. Thebe, business partner to Mapitse, “because the pandemic forced us to go from a strong staff of 22 down to 12.”
Thebe notes that customer loyalty has been the anchor that allows them to navigate the precarious food and hospitality market which has been facing challenges, including rising fuel costs and irregular availability of stock, leading to unstable profit margins. In an effort to coax their clientele, Test Kitchen is looking to revamp its style and beef up its eventing calendar with niche entertainment.
While PJ the DJ spun some nostalgic RnB and deep house songs, guests would occasionally rise to two-step. Those most fascinating were a collective of women who had just completed the Diacore Gaborone Marathon that morning, clad in their siren red, active wear by Collection by BK Proctor. Having participated under the Run4Mmannu initiative along with Mapitse and Thebe, the brunch was a pay-off for their hard work and dedication.
The initiative was established in honour of the late Malebogo Mmannu Proctor who was struck by a vehicle while training for the marathon in March this year. “When her husband, George Proctor, said he would run the marathon in her memory, we decided that we’d join in,” offered Punah Molebatsi. As a novice runner herself, Molebatsi admits that the collective motivation through social media and group chats was the mortar that kept them strong. Over 50 people registered under the initiative that looks to build a legacy for Mmannu while making a change for runners and pedestrian welfare in the streets.
As the sun made its way to the horizon, all in attendance were mellowed enough to face a Sunday evening of preparing for the working week ahead. While a boisterous outing can reignite the sparks in one’s life every so often, treats like an easy Sunday brunch have the potential to be a mainstay for those whose aim is not to sweat.