Restaurant with the best view in town

Owner Nomzoli Cwane says there's no view like her view in Johannesburg.
Owner Nomzoli Cwane says there's no view like her view in Johannesburg.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

"This is going to be a well of gratitude."

That's how the owners of Johannesburg's newest eatery, with arguably the most enviable view, came up with the restaurant's name. Gratitude is the culmination of the Cwane family's hard work and desires.

"Wherever there is water there will be life, and this water will form streams that will feed into rivers which feed into the sea.

"That is how we envision Gratitude to be. we employ people who then can feed their families, and we said gratitude because we are grateful, we've been through a lot and we are still standing.

We said let's be grateful and call other people to be grateful here," says Nomzoli Cwane, the matriarch of the establishment.

A trio of seafood pasta
A trio of seafood pasta
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The 58-year-old Cwane and her husband have been working for 32 years and used their savings and pension money to start their business.

They've also been involved in a franchise for five years, which has helped in collecting funds as well.

Their business employs 25 people. The restaurant in Modderfontein is huge, with a cool blue interior and fancy gold light fixtures.

When you enter, your eyes are drawn to the back where the huge glass doors open up the view flooding the place with light.

Cwane inside her fancy restuarant in Modderfontein which employs 25 staffers.
Cwane inside her fancy restuarant in Modderfontein which employs 25 staffers.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

You'll be forgiven for imagining yourself on a deck out in the open seas.

Having a love of food but no chef qualification, Cwane hired a professional to help her decide on her menu.

The restaurant is seafood-based. For winter, Cwane says, they'll have special surprise menu items that are hearty, just to vary the menu.

The former teacher says she knew that there would be challenges in starting the business but just not the extent.

"It was a struggle while building. When we'd come in to [check on the progress], the contractor would have diverted from the plan, doing whatever they wanted.

"So we had to fight for anything to get done [in a proper manner]."

Another challenge was the fact that their brand was unknown and in an unknown location.

They've received support from a mixed clientele but are looking to gain some more. She appealed strongly to young black people.

A spot of colour: Sea bass served with a splash of purple mash.
A spot of colour: Sea bass served with a splash of purple mash.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

"You'll find that people support their own. I'm proud of being black and I've produced something that other black people can be proud of.

"The struggle is there and what we've found out is that it's not the struggle of the street, it's an economic struggle."

Every first Sunday of the month patrons can enjoy some jazz. Cwane says she normally features artists who are not in the limelight to boost their visibility.

"We Africans like to mingle with people and music connects people and the jazz we offer is not that old deep jazz," she says.

The establishment is fast becoming a hub for celebrations such as birthdays and baby showers.

Sowetan had the opportunity to taste some items from the menu. The fare was delicious overall and the staff was the right amount of attentive.

"We want the people to come and enjoy Gratitude; they must have a taste of what Gratitude is. There is no restaurant in Johannesburg that has this view."

MUST TRY:  Seafood pasta and the Asian fish and sweet potato chips.

Asian fish with crunchy fried sweet potatoes medallions.
Asian fish with crunchy fried sweet potatoes medallions.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

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