Pub might be missing link - Soweto's west end buzzing

October 10 2015. The Social Link Shisa Nyama in Soweto. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE /SOWETAN
October 10 2015. The Social Link Shisa Nyama in Soweto. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE /SOWETAN

The west end of Soweto has come alive, not only through multiple commercial and social development projects taking place there but also through the Social Link pub.

This entertainment venue along the R558 (Leratong Hospital road) near Protea Glen is a new magnet for fun seekers in Soweto. One immediate observation is the beautiful and smart people the pub attracts. The clientele here really make an effort to look good.

On my arrival at about 6pm on a Saturday evening there were enough people to make the place reasonably busy. The early birds were mostly keen on having an early dinner, which is mostly shisa nyama (grilled meat) and a very hot sauce for those daring enough.

I must confess I did not notice if a green salad or other side dishes were on offer to counter the protein overload.

The atmosphere at Social Link is generally jolly, judging by the hearty banter all around. The music is also okay, allowing patrons to have a good conversation while they enjoy themselves. I thought, though, that the DJ's selection of deep house tunes was monotonous.

There were a few other irritants. Firstly, while most people that evening were enjoying the Rugby World Cup match between Scotland and the Springboks on various big screen TVs around the venue, the channel was changed to the English Premier League. People were agitated by this and it took longer than necessary for the error to be corrected.

Secondly, the assistant behind the counter at the butchery flatly refused to help me when I asked for a receipt for my purchase. I was about to ask for the manager when she told me to return to my table and that she would send over the receipt. It never came.

While the butchery lady needs training in customer care, the other staff at the pub were friendlier and more professional. The meat was done to my liking, and the dinner proved a tasty treat overall.

I asked a group of four friends where they had come from - two were from nearby Randfontein, one from Dobsonville and another was visiting from Lesotho.

"It's my second time here at Social Link," said Mamohau Mosala, the lady from Lesotho.

"This time I am here to take in as much as I can about this place because I want to replicate its business model in my neighbourhood in Maseru. I was blown away first time, even now I am thrilled [and] I want to take it all home."

I counted four different sections of the big venue all cosy with smart sofas and red and white decor. The stretch marquee tent and umbrellas give the pub an appearance of a futuristic outdoor chill spot or a beer garden.

By 9pm the venue was packed and the chattering drowned out the music, which was okay because I believe people must talk when they are chilling and not have to shout above the loud music.

When we left at 10.30pm, more people were arriving and I wondered how they were going to be accommodated, even though I could see many who were happy to stand around.

Social Link is accessible as it is right at the busy corner of the R558 and Emndeni Link, near Doornkop, Emndeni, Naledi and Protea Glen. It has ample parking space, a car wash and an FNB ATM for those who don't want to risk the speedpoint.

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