J’ Something teams up with Discovery Business Insurance to provide lifeline to devastated restaurant industry
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Johannesburg- Mi Casa frontman J'Something says he is devastated by the crippling of South Africa’s restaurant industry.
Since the national lockdown was implemented in March last year, the industry has suffered enormously, with thousands of restaurants forced to close their doors permanently due to the lockdown.
“The restaurant industry put me through school and university,” says the musician, whose real name is Joao da Fonseca.
“My mom had a restaurant for about 18 years, so to see the industry that has helped me to get through life and support me through life, and one that brings me a lot of joy to my life, suffer the way it had has left a massive impact on me.
“The first thing that I think about is the many people that are involved in the industry. I am devastated.”
Fonseca, who himself is a restaurateur, and successfully ran his own restaurant, “Something's Cooking by J”, in Pretoria for three years, admits it was tough to see some of his favourite restaurants shutting down.
“I’ve seen a lot of restaurants shut down in the last couple of months, even a few of them that I know very well.
“One of them that comes to mind, and I have no idea if they shut down due to the lockdown, was a place called Urbanologi, in Newtown, in Johannesburg. It was a very special place with delicious food, amazing heart, and philosophy, so to see them shut down was terribly sad.”
Having been personally affected it’s hardly a surprise that Fonseca has jumped at the opportunity to help out.
He teamed up with Discovery Business Insurance, who recently launched a campaign that celebrates restaurants and the profound impact they continue to have on the country.
The campaign aims to gift one lucky restaurant in the country the chance to win R25 000.
To do so, South Africans have been asked to take to social media and post about their favourite restaurant using the hashtag #RestaurantReDiscovery.
They are required to post a 60 to 90 second video of what their restaurant means to them, its purpose, flavour and heritage.
Then, five finalist videos will be shortlisted so the public can vote for their favourite.
Votes are counted by the most comments using all the social media platforms, and the shortlisted restaurant with the most votes will be crowned the winner of R25 000.
Fonseca says he is thrilled to be part of a campaign to help an industry that has helped him throughout his entire life.
“The first thing that really drew me to this campaign was that it could really help a restaurant. That’s awesome. Knowing margins around restaurants and knowing what it takes to run one, and how much every penny counts, I wanted to be involved.”
Fonseca is hoping South Africans come together to support the campaign and the restaurant industry as a whole.
“Food is super important. It is not only how we nourish our bodies, but what restaurants give us is they make food come alive in a very unique way.
“It’s not just about going to grab a pizza, it’s more than that. The restaurant gives people a break, a moment of happiness, a moment of escape. It helps people come together, it builds community, its celebrates heritage, it celebrates flavours and I personally love going to a restaurant.
“It’s the same with music. Music is important because it gives people so much more than just a song.
“Restaurants give people so much more than just a plate of food. Especially if the restaurants are well run, community-based and carry the love and have a strong philosophy in their offering.”
Meanwhile, Discovery Business Insurance chief operating officer Lana Ross says they launched the campaign to offer their support to South Africa’s restaurants, who have been some of the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic.
“We hope that this campaign will lift the sentiment among these businesses right now and encourage us all to support the restaurant industry in a really uplifting way so that it can return to its once highly vibrant state sooner rather than later,” says Ross.
“Now, we want to encourage all South Africans to get vaccinated, and get back to normal life and support the restaurants in their neighbourhoods, towns and cities.”
Ross also highlighted the importance that the restaurant industry plays in the country.
“It’s a crucially important industry, which reportedly employed more than 500 000 people and contributed around R6 billion to the South African economy on a monthly basis in 2019,” says Ross.
“Just three years back, the industry’s total revenue was expected to grow from around R72 billion to at least R88 billion by 2023 too. Economically and culturally, this industry is key. South Africa boasts some world-renowned chefs and restaurants, so we really do feel invested in seeing their success.”
Ross says she hopes the campaign goes a long way in uplifting restaurants and giving them the exposure they very much need and deserve.
“The big win for us would be to see some fantastic establishments get exposure, and obviously, this cash injection will be considerable for many businesses.”