Moyo is renowned for its unique African dining experience. The word ‘moyo’ is Swahili for ‘soul’ and all restaurants within the moyo fold embrace the essence and soul of Africa – her traditions, diversity and beauty. Moyo first began in 1998 as a small 120-seater restaurant in Norwood, Johannesburg. Today, owned by Four News Development, the moyo experience of exceptional African cuisine along with live African music can be enjoyed at five establishments around the country and moyo Blouberg is one of the five.
To be found at Eden on the Bay – arguably one of the most beautiful locations in the world – moyo Blouberg overlooks Bloubergstrand beach with the iconic Table Mountain and Robben Island in the distance. Oliver Hart is its General Manager and co-owner, along with senior partner, Erik Smit. A long-standing and valued client of N1, Oliver kindly made some time in his fully-booked festive season schedule to answer a few quick questions:
We know that owning a moyo requires strict adherence to a set of qualifying criteria, including that of previous culinary and management experience, can you tell us a little about your career prior to the inception of moyo Blouberg?
I started off my hospitality career in my gap year after school. I found myself waitering in a few hotels in the UK. On returning to South Africa I realised that a career in hospitality suited me and decided to go to hotel school. I was accepted to the Granger Bay Hotel school and completed my 3 year diploma in Hospitality Management. After graduating I spent some time on the QE2 cruise ship, Mount Nelson Hotel and Table Bay Hotel and Ratanga Junction all in the food and beverage department. From Ratanga, but still in the same company, I was moved over to Time Square Cafe as GM. Then finally in April this year I was given the opportunity to partner with a great friend and mentor in taking over the reins at Moyo.
To have the gravitas of the moyo brand behind you in starting up must have been both reassuring and daunting, what were some of the challenges you faced in the early days?
I think taking a business over after being under business rescue is an extremely challenging experience, but as said the Four News guys have been very supportive and understanding. One of the toughest challenges was changing the mind set of our staff that we took over. For many months as one can imagine, the Moyo group was in limbo and no real direction was given to the staff, so that has been a tough ride, but we are getting there.
N1 have been your restaurant supplier right from the get-go, what is it that you value most about your relationship with them?
The N1 guys, Paul and our rep Kevin Gibbs have always assisted us in delivering the best value and quality of meat. Any queries are dealt with professionally and efficiently.
You launched a new menu in September, helped in part by N1 who supply the correct cut of meat for certain dishes – what was the response like to the new menu?
It has really been a breath of fresh air. We are receiving great compliments from many satisfied customers. The menu literally tripled in size, but has been extremely well thought out by our Group Exec chef Ronald Ramsamy.
You offer some truly out-of-the-ordinary dishes like fried mopane worms, crocodile tail pies, even warthog potjiekos – are the more exotic dishes popular with your patrons, and do South African or foreign visitors enjoy them more?
The foreigners are more adventurous, but the locals are also enjoying the exotic dishes. The Mopane worms, well what can I say, they are mostly ordered after some Tequila.
And finally, moyo Blouberg has achieved great success – while location and the moyo essence undeniably are all part of that magic formula, what is it that you and your team continue to focus on that brings about such success?
We are focusing on reinvigorating the Moyo brand and increasing the service excellence, quality of product and creating a fantastic environment for all our patrons.
In closing we want to thank Oliver again for his time and we want to congratulate moyo Blouberg on creating yet another unforgettable moyo experience!