Township homes are being turned into pop-up restaurants - thanks to this award-winning start-up

Business Insider SA
Luthando Dyas, The Black Lion, Dine With
Luthando Dyasi wants to change misconceptions of townships through his Dine With pop-up restaurants
  • Dine With started after a group of friends invited potential investors to their homes in Khayelitsha for dinner.
  • The dinners were meant to give the group insights on township life.
  • This has resulted in a business where home owners in townships invite international tourists into their homes for dinner and get paid for it.

This award-winning start-up has created an opportunity for township families to earn money by preparing food for tourists.

Dine With is a pop-up restaurant format that transforms township residents' homes into restaurants.

The idea is the brainchild of Capetonian Luthando Dyasi.

Four years ago, Dyasi and his friends met with students from a Swiss social entrepreneurship training programme called Kaospilot to get assistance for their tutoring project, Go Varsty. The project was aimed at assisting learners to prepare for university.

Luthando Dyas, The Black Lion, Dine With

Dyasi and his friends wanted to give 80 Swiss students an authentic tour of Khayelitsha. They divided the students into six groups, and invited each group to a different house to enjoy dinner there. The dinners were a hit, which gave rise to the idea of a pop-up venture involving township residents.

This is how it works:

Township residents are asked to open their homes to tourists and share a meal with them.

"We wanted to make tourism more inclusive and change it in such a way that it benefits the locals directly," says Dyasi.

It is a great experience for people who have never been to townships. 

Through Dine With, tourists get to engage with the locals, learn more about them and hopefully have their perception of South African townships changed.

"Our main purpose was and remains to bridge the gap and disprove various stigmas of South Africa and its locals." Dine With currently has 211 homes in Soweto, Braamfontein, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu registered to welcome tourists for dinner.

Luthando Dyas, The Black Lion, Dine With

Dinners in Soweto take place every Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Braamfontein and every second month in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu. Locals wanting to host tourists simply get in touch with Dine With. Initially, residents also get assistance to get their homes ready. This may include the supply of crockery, cutlery and glasses.

Tourists are charged R300 each, which includes food and transportation to and from the homes. The hosts may be asked to accommodate up to 10 people at a time for dinner.

"The home owners are also provided with a professional chef the first time they host."

This is to assist them in understanding what the tourists might require, should they be vegan or vegetarian. It is also to make sure that the hosts are comfortable.

Though some founding members have since left the venture, Dyasi has powered on and, recently, walked away with a R50,000 cash price at the Black Lion entrepreneurship competition

Luthando Dyas, The Black Lion, Dine With
Luthando Dyasi, the winner of this year's Black Lion competition is the co-founder of Dine With, a pop-up restaurant wanting to bring international tourists to the townships

"Winning the competition, for me, has meant that what we are doing is important, it is a huge opportunity for us to make a difference."

Dyasi is now based in Johannesburg, yet still has a team running operations in Cape Town.

For more go to Business Insider South Africa.

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