Windhoek – To truly experience all that Namibia has to offer, one should go all out there and experience the local cuisine. Doing that requires a visit to the newly established traditional restaurant, Pepata, which has on its menu delicious Namibian traditional cuisines. At Pepata restaurants the cuisines are cooked using homely methods to preserve the original traditional taste and present a home away from home feel.
Young local businesswoman, Jolokeni Nambahu, owns the Pepata restaurants, which just opened a second restaurant in Windhoek’s City Centre. The new restaurant is situated along the Robert Mugabe Avenue, next to The National Theatre of Namibia.
One of the popular item on the menu is the Cape horse mackerel fish, also known as maasbanker, which is either prepared grilled, fried or in sauce with steamed veggies, pap and salsa sauce.
Those adventurous enough can also start off with scrumptious mopane worms as a starter, followed by a nice warm dry spinach and pap as the main course and wash down the food with oshikundu (traditional drink made with mahangu flour). Then there is of course the traditional chicken, traditional beer and an array of other traditional food.
Pepata is aiming to be the first choice for all those in search of Namibian traditional meals, a restaurant that provides the home away from home experience. Hence their motto “Feel right at home.”
“People are getting tired of eating western cuisine and sometimes they just need homely meal, a place and the meal they eat from their houses,” says Nambahu who originally hails from Ondaanya village, in Ondobe district of Ohangwena region, nearly 700 kilometre from Windhoek.
“This is a reflection of our commitment to service, growth and good management techniques,” says Nambahu.
The 32-year old Nambahu first opened the Pepata restaurant in Tauben Glen Centre, in Hochland Park, in 2015, with only two employees.
With the opening of the second restaurant Nambahu now employs 35 people all working to dish out that unique soul-food feel cuisines.
According to Nambahu, services offered are not limited to sit-in customers but includes home deliveries.
Nambahu adds they also have a very good track record of their staff turnover and have managed to retain their staff that started operation with them.
“We treat employees as our biggest asset in ensuring a sustainable operation. We provide market related compensation and ample benefits such as transport and pension. We believe that our contribution to curbing unemployment in the country is significant,” she says.
Nambahu however recalls their first challenging experiences when they were finding it difficulties of procuring traditional food, going out and ensure there was always stocks available and convincing clients that their restaurants is formal and at a professional stage.
She adds that as time passes, the demand was very high and the business was moving bigger and better. The place has also become one of the tourists’ attractions.
“We then realize that the place in Hochland Park was very small for us and we needed a bigger venue, a strategically located place and end up at Robert Mugabe Avenue,” she explains, adding that their new landlord advised them to expand their menu from traditional food to other cuisine since the venue was at an advance stage.
Pepata’s two restaurants operates from 09h00 to 00h00 daily. The restaurant in the city centre also hosts functions for small and big event.
In addition, they also cater for outside functions such as weddings, baptism parties and corporate functions.
This year, the restaurant has bigger plans on its plate, especially to entertain their clients with exciting traditional events.
They are planning to host Oxungi Evening, focusing mainly on cultural aspects of all tribes in Namibia. They are also planning to host live bands performances and drumming on Friday and Saturday nights.
Pepata has now active Facebook page, “Pepata Traditional Food” and it has proved to reach a significant number of audiences when used through paid advertising options. The page has over 5000 followers, which is a sign of our growing popularity and love for traditional cuisines.
“With our Namibian cuisines, we believe we can grow within the hospitality industry which is currently dominated by foreign-based establishments.”