By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK Senior business executives were among the dozens who on Monday night were in attendance at the official opening of a chic, fast-foods, Italian franchise in Windhoek at Maerua Mall by Bernhard Esau the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. Esau stated that the first ever Primi Piatti Restaurant in Namibia is among the dozens which, over the past half-decade, have resulted in excess of N$100 million being ploughed into new and refurbished restaurants throughout Namibia in what is seen as positive growth. “While new restaurant openings were relatively rare in Namibia during the 1990s, they have blossomed since 2000 and more than N$100 million has been invested in new and refurbished restaurants throughout Namibia over the past five years,” said the deputy minister. The former unionist, once a darling among workers because of his militant rhetoric, noted that Namibia was “increasingly becoming a location of choice for top-class businesses that want to tap into this growing economy of the region. The Primi Piatti brand is another shining example of businesses which have chosen to invest in Namibia because of this.” “Windhoek is currently experiencing a growing culture of dining out. There is an increasing demand for eateries and restaurants, and all prognoses predict it will increase further. The demand is increasing both from consumers and from the hotel-restaurant and catering sectors. This is driven by a wish for delicious and tasty foods …” he reflected. The new culture of eating in restaurants, particularly among the previously disadvantaged, could be attributed to a burgeoning middle-class and those systematically empowered through Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals and others elevated to executive positions that were formerly a preserve of whites in the segregative colonial period. The franchise that opened at the mall which recently underwent a multi-million-dollar expansion and refurbishment, is the twentieth Primi Piatti establishment to be opened in the sub-region after 18 were opened in Cape Town, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg and Bloemfontein in South Africa and the other outlet in Gaborone in Botswana. South African businesswoman, Ravathe Chetty, who teamed up with local entrepreneur, Peter Castle, whose trademark appears to be a plaited goatee, is the brain behind the restaurant that cost “a few million” and employs 64 people who are in their youth. Chetty, who is assisted by her husband and children to run the entity, said Primi Piatti means First Plate in Italian and she enthused there is no doubt that Namibians are set for their first taste of the tantalizing brand that on Monday served calzone, a pie with delicious fillings and other pickings, to the invited guests who included Inge Zaamwani, NamDeb’s Managing Director, and John Shaetonhodi, the CEO of TransNamib. A relaxed-looking former Mines and Energy Minister, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, seemingly enjoying his retirement, and Zambia’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Griffin Nyirongo, and his wife Charity were in the crowd entertained by a two-man band which sang soothing music to an appreciative audience that feasted on Italian cuisine.
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