The Sunday News
Gladmore Ncube, Sunday Life Correspondent
IT is not often that one gets into a restaurant and gets lucky to be served with a complementary movie ticket, let alone have a belly filled with affordable meals at the heart of the city.
While the movie house experience sound outdated among the millennials generations, there is a young entrepreneur in the city, eager to revitalise the cinema watching by intertwining it with some food culture.
Urbanites who grew up in the 90s tell of days when watching cinema at Elite 400 was the only definition of going out. This was when movies were shown up the whole day. With the cinemas alike having met their dearth of late, one young entrepreneur sought to bring back that culture to life.
At the foyer of the giant Elite auditorium is Silas Mukusha’s Eat-Linq restaurant. This is not just an ordinary eatery but one that give an ardent cinema goer an appetite.
After seeing an opportunity with the shutting down of the once popular Elite 400, Makusha opted what most young people dread to do in this harsh economic climate by opening the ‘drop by’ restaurant. At doing so, the 24- year old braved to run the cinema as well.
The new establishment, though in its infancy, now has its trademark dishes the talk of town.
Mukusha said his aim is to build a leisure business that connects the foodie to the movie world.
“We tend to associate restaurants with eating only. But, you can have your meal as you wait for your movie to commence or indulge in a meal later. All this in the comfort of one roof. Elite 400 is still the go to place for the young and old for a movie outing. Why not put food, in particular exotic dishes that people would love to sample while watching the big screen? After ordering their favorite dish or snack, people inquire about the latest movie on circuit.
“I saw a business enterprise that no one has experienced in Bulawayo by starting up this restaurant and on intervals run the cinema,” said Mukusha in an interview with Sunday Life.
He speaks of his new establishment as a leisure centre where the people of Bulawayo can meet up, eat and unwind over the box office.
“My focus is on young people whose space for expression is no longer there in Bulawayo. All restaurants offer just food and nothing more. At Eat-Linq we aim to inspire that generation and to hit some nostalgia to the older ones who know how to indulge good food and cinema.”
Mukusha, a recent Geography studies graduate from Lupane State University, is certain that there are more opportunities in the food industries that young people can tap in.
“Look, with the opening of Eat-Linq it was an idea on how to draw people closer to the arts, in this case the movies by bringing a restaurant close by. Jobs have been crated. Young film makers want to use the established to showcase their films. Cooks, chefs, film makers, farmers and other line small businesses are meeting at this new joint.”
He said his food culture ethic has brought in clients in the corporate sector too.
“Companies, banks and well-to-do personalities now hire us as they believe in our policy of doing away with the traditional thinking around food. Top floor customers are mindful of what they consume more than before. They want to associate with what the youth are doing, vibrant places that radiate life.
“That explains why our double beef burgers are everyone’s choice, not to forget the array of exotic tastes. They want to know and taste our ingredients. While at it, they ask, what movie you are showing next,” said the young entrepreneur.
The leisure and food industry is not spared by the tumbling economy and to that the newly opened Eat-Linq restaurant has had its fair share of troubles.
Mukusha’s idea of linking the arts and food business has also made him advance his digital advertising and reach as many potential food and cinema lovers.
“We are talking of food and movies, a culture that everyone wants to be part of. You have to take into account that people have not much to spend but with food it’s a necessity. In this economy one has to make sure their product affordable. In this extremely harsh environment, the business to into account the power of bringing the customer closer at the lease expense.”
“Taking appreciation of the power of the digital media, Eat-Linq restaurant went a gear up and made presence in all social media platforms. That has also marketed Elite 400 well. Those who know the place was shut down completely can now come back as they taste the delight of the eating place and enjoying the cinema.
“Cinema going is still there. What is needed is a creative approach, diversifying and knowing what people want,” said Mukusha.