Racism at St Elmos in Avondale?

(updated below)

Wadzanayi ran into what can only be called racism … at the hands of a fellow black man.

Last night for the first time in Zimbabwe i was racially descriminated against by a BLACK MAN at St Elmos by Avondale.

We walked into the restaurant at 8.45 and the manager tells us we cant sit-in coz their kitchen is closing.

We understood and ordered takeaway. 5mins later, 2 white men walk in, they also wanted to sit-in and guess wat? The manager gives them a table and allows them to order in MY FACE!!!

I simply shook my head at the manager and said to him “nekuti ganda rasiyana ka“. This didnt go down well with my boyfrend and he caused a scene!!!

So no tip for the waiter..damn racists!!! nxa

Not cool. Not cool at all. My advice to Wadzi for (God forbid) next time would be to take both the manager and wait-staff’s names. This sort of thing cannot be allowed to fly, and needs to be reported up the ladder straight quick.

We have forwarded this post to the contact we found on the St Elmos website, so we’ll see what happens.

As Wadzi aptly put it … nxa!

Update 1 -Together with the St Elmos contacts, I also emailed this post to Dusty Miller, the Independent and Standard‘s food critic.

He, obviously, didn’t have the same problems, but it seems he couldn’t be bothered to save our email (or read this post) before filing his latest story, which mentioned our concerns.

Save, of course, to dismiss our contributor as late, hence undeserving of service anyway, regardless of race.

Way to go, Dusty. How very snobbishly … colonial … of you.

Update 2 – Robbie Mellor, the General Manager of the St Elmo’s franchise in Zimbabwe, responded in the comments.

“Once again I apologise to you about the poor service and lack of respect that you were shown. Please accept my sincere apologies, and if anything of the sort ever happens again, please call me on my personal cell phone …”

Well done Robbie, at least it shows you guys care about your customers and, obviously, your reputation. Good stuff.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. NBC says:

    We are regulars at St. Elmos as we live round the corner and have small kids. Usually the service is friendly and more efficient than say….Cafe Nush (kkkk). However one day we got there and one of the waiters came to ask how many we wanted to seat. Before I could open my mouth to respond, an entourage of white people came in. At the forefront was a woman. She made a bee line for the waiter I was speaking to, stepped in front of me and asked for a table for x amount of people. The waiter who was dealing with me completely ignored what he saw just happen and started running around to get this woman a table. He left us standing there with our gobs open, speechless. Lol.

    I saw a table nearby that had a reserved sign on it and sat down there. Within seconds – literally – the same waiter came and said: “Sorry you can’t sit here; its reserved.” But i said: “you were in the middle of serving us and then decided that those people over there were more important. so we found somewhere to sit.” He smiled nervously as if i was joking and said “ok… but you can’t sit here. please can you move?” And i said “no. I’m afraid we cant. Hopefully this will teach you not to get over-excited and lose your manners when you see white people. You are disrespectful and unprofessional.” He looked genuinely mortified.

    I think the issue is that the staff aren’t actually trained properly. They are friendly etc but they haven’t been taught how to deal with several people wanting their attention at the same time – for example. So when something like that happens, the individuals prejudices kick in. Everyone has prejudices. Who cares? We just don’t want to see them manifest in a professional space. I can’t slag off the whole establishment for one waiter’s inferiority complex…but really, its the management who haven’t trained them properly. Its actually a national problem. Deep. Historical. Psychological.

  2. Joe Black says:

    Hi Robbie, thanks for making the effort to get in touch.

    Seems that maybe you should invest in your own website for here, or at least have the contact details available easily somewhere online. Like a Facebook page or something.

    That way this issue would have come straight to you, and could have been dealt with in a timely fashion? Just a suggestion.

    Glad you care enough to give us feedback on this, well done. Definitely not “taking the piss” then.

  3. Good Evening Wadzanayi

    Firstly I would like to apologise that it has taken me this long to get back to you. I was unaware of your complaint until Dusty Miller e mailed me a copy of his write up on St Elmo’s, and I saw that he mentioned a complaint. He did not have your contact details, so I googled it and saw your letter. I am also very sorry that my Head Office in South Africa did not forward your somplaint to me, otherwise I would have apologised earlier.

    I am truly sorry that you were not allowed to sit in the Restaurant and order your food. As a policy, St Elmo’s Kitchen closes at 9pm during the week, and 10pm on a Friday and Saturday, but you can come in at closing time or just after and we can serve you. As long as they haven’t spread the coals in the pizza oven, or drained the oil from the Chip fryer, we can still serve you. I am very sorry that this happened to you, it is totally unacceptable as we DO NOT CLOSE at 8:45pm. I am very upset that both my manager and Waiter decided to tell you that we were closed and you should order take away’s, as I expect better customer service and more respect to customers from a Manager.

    If you can recall what night of the week it was, I will try and find out what Manager it was, and I will deal with them. What makes the situation far worse, is that after they denied you access, they decided to serve other customers. This is totally unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. I dont care what colour the customer is, they are all paying over their hard earned money to be served at St Elmo’s, and everyone is a paying customer and deserves to be treated as such.

    Please can you send me your telephone number and address so that I can call you, and write a personal Apology letter to you.

    Once again I apologise to you about the poor service and lack of respect that you were shown.

    Please accept my sincere apologies, and if anything of the sort ever happens again, please call me on my personal cell phone 0772 241 722 and I will deal with it immediately.

    Again I am truly sorry

    Kind regards

    Robbie Mellor
    General Manager
    St Elmo’s Franchise – Zimbabwe

  4. No, its nationalised in quotes, i meant to say they should be taken over nana Museyamwa, through the current local empowerment drive that’s currently on.

  5. Joe says:

    “All I really know is that they don’t really care about us” – Michael Jackson

  6. Izzy says:

    i see there’s no response yet from the contact you got on the St Elmo’s website….why am I not surprised? it’s sad to see how even as black zimbabweans, we discrimate against each other instead of rallying up together to stamp the negativity out of our nation.

  7. Joe Black says:

    Dangerous talk comrade. Nationalised? As in … state takeover of private enterprise?

  8. these places should be “nationalised” first!

  9. Joe says:

    Mojo’s really? I’d understand Fishmonger’s cos it’s pretty old and established … but a new place?

    Someone needs to wake these people up.

  10. Kabweza says:

    Sad but not uncommon in Harare. Not too long ago some black waiter at Fishmonger came to our table after we’d just walked in, we told him we were still looking at the menu. He never came back. Questioned why, he rudely told us he was too busy for people who couldn’t make up their mind. We left and headed for Mojo’s up the road.

    At Mojos some white administrator wouldn’t have us coz “You’re supposed to book in advance”. A black waiter told us on our way out that there was space available for us but said he couldn’t help if the white master had said no.

  11. tinotenda says:

    i also went to st elmos and i did noone welcomed me ,as is the norm,at the door,it was almost quiet in there but the wiaters were there and they watched us walk to a table where we placed ourselves.we waited a good fifteen minutes for service,when asked why they hadnt attended to us yet they werent busy,they saw us sitting and not do anything about it,their crude reply was that you should have left us to place u at a given place and not to just walk in so i just calmed and they prepared our food.which i enjoyed,but i now make sure i NEVER give any tip at all,i paid for my food,so what for the tip.ngapapinde murungu uone chete.vanoita kunamata varungu. their food is so good asi pa client care apo they are getting it wrong.im concerned.

    1. Good Evening Tinotenda

      I am very sorry that you had such bad service at St Elmo’s, and were not shown the respect that you deserve. We emply a Cashier to man the front desk and they are meant to meet and greet all customers, and show them to their seats. If the Cashier is busy seating other people, all waiters are meant to greet any customers and show them through to their table.

      It is also totally unacceptable that you sat at the table and were not served for so long. All customers are meant to served their first order of drinks within 5 mins of being seated. I apologise to you that it took so long to be acknowledged and served. I am flabbergasted by the arrogance of my waiter telling you that you should have waited to be seated, this is disgusting behaviour, the waiter has forgotten that it is your patronage that is paying his salary!

      I am truly sorry for the lack of respect that you were shown, please can you send me your details so that I can write a Letter of Apology to you as well.

      Please accept my humble apologies, I will be doing a refresher course on Customer Care with all my staff, as they have forgotten that the customer is King. Please call me on 0772 241722 if you ever receive poor service from St Elmo’s again.

      Kind regards

      Robbie Mellor
      General Manager
      St Elmo’s Franchise – Zimbabwe

  12. Joe Black says:

    True that some of our brethren retain a sense of insecurity. That is life. But attitudes like that need to change if we are to progress as a nation.

    How has Avondale been more of a racially segregated place? Compared to Sam Levy’s?

  13. Its sad, most people in Zimbabwe are still suffering from what i would coin, Post Traumatic Baas Syndrome, its still capped at the back their minds that the White Man is the Baas.

    I never really liked Avondale anyway, its more of a racially segregated place, i rest my case.

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