Johannesburg-Mi Casa front man J’Something says he’s devastated by the paralysis of the South African restaurant industry.

The industry has suffered tremendously since the national lockdown last March as the lockdown forced thousands of restaurants to permanently close their doors.

“Gastronomy got me through school and university,” says the musician, whose real name is Joao da Fonseca.

“My mother had a restaurant for about 18 years. So to see the industry that has helped me get through life and support me through life and that brings me a lot of joy in my life has to suffer as it left a massive impact on me.

“The first thing I think about is the many people who work in the industry. I am devastated.”

MiCasa front man J ‘Something says hospitality has added a lot to his life. File image.

Fonseca, who is a restaurateur himself and successfully ran his own restaurant “Something’s Cooking by J” in Pretoria for three years, admits that it has been difficult to close some of his favorite restaurants.

“I’ve seen a lot of restaurants closed in the past few months, even some that I know very well.

“One of them that comes to my mind, and I have no idea if they closed because of the lockdown, was a place called Urbanologi in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was a very special place with delicious food, an incredible heart and an incredible philosophy, so it was terribly sad to see them shut down. “

With Fonseca personally affected, it is hardly surprising that Fonseca took the opportunity to help.

He has partnered with Discovery Business Insurance, who recently launched a campaign celebrating restaurants and their profound impact on the country.

The aim of the campaign is to give a lucky restaurant in the country the chance of a profit of Rand 25,000.

South Africans were asked to post about their favorite restaurant on social media using the hashtag #RestaurantReDiscovery.

You need to post a 60 to 90 second video showing what your restaurant means to you, its purpose, taste and heritage.

Then five finalist videos will be shortlisted for the public to vote for their favorite.

Votes will be counted according to the most comments on all social media platforms and the restaurant with the most votes on the shortlist will be crowned the winner of R25,000.

South Africa – Johannesburg – July 22, 2020 – Parkhurst restaurant workers and owners participated in their “Million Seats on the Streets” protest, following the ban on selling alcohol in restaurants since they opened for seating. The sectors hardest hit by the government’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Image: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

Fonseca says he’s excited to be part of a campaign to help an industry that has helped him all his life.

“The first thing that really appealed to me about this campaign was that it can really help a restaurant. That’s great. Since I know the margins in restaurants and what it takes to run one and how much every penny counts, I wanted to participate. “

Fonseca hopes South Africans will come together to support the campaign and catering as a whole.

“Food is super important. Not only do we nourish our bodies, but restaurants give us the ability to bring food to life in a unique way.

“It’s not just about getting a pizza, it’s more than that. The restaurant gives people a break, a moment of happiness, a moment of escape. It helps people come together, it creates community, it celebrates heritage, it celebrates flavors, and I personally love going to a restaurant.

“It’s the same with music. Music is important because it offers so much more to people than just a song.

“Restaurants offer people so much more than just a plate of food. Especially when the restaurants are well-run, community-based and love and have a strong philosophy in their offer. “

Discovery Business Insurance chief operating officer Lana Ross said they launched the campaign to support South Africa’s restaurants, which were among the hardest hit companies during the pandemic.

“We hope that this campaign will now lift the spirits among these companies and encourage us all to support the restaurant industry in really uplifting ways so that it can return to its once very dynamic state sooner rather than later,” says Ross.

“Now we want to encourage all South Africans to get vaccinated, get back to normal life and support the restaurants in their neighborhoods, towns and cities.”

Ross also highlighted the importance that gastronomy plays in the country.

“It’s a hugely important industry that reportedly employed more than 500,000 people and contributed roughly R6 billion a month to the South African economy in 2019,” said Ross.

“Just three years ago it was expected that total sales in the industry would increase from around R 72 billion to at least R 88 billion by 2023. Economically and culturally, this industry is of crucial importance. There are some world famous chefs and restaurants in South Africa, so we feel really interested in seeing their success. “

Ross says she hopes the campaign goes a long way toward improving restaurants and giving them the attention they so desperately need and deserve.

“The big win for us would be if some fantastic facilities were discovered, and of course this cash injection will be substantial for many companies.”

The Saturday star