Diamond in Kimberley: Lyve Cafe – all about fine dining, date nights & wine tasting

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Lyve Cafe is situated on the corner of Du Toitspan and Chapel Streets in Kimberley’s CBD.  The up-market restaurant, which opened in December 2020, has adopted Greek-style décor and oozes class.

I had a chat with the restaurant general manager Thanduxolo Ngobeni. Introducing himself, Thando, as he is affectionately known, said he checks on all operations to ensure that everything runs accordingly.

“I am an all-rounder. I do everything, from waitering to cleaning a toilet – wherever I am needed, I am there.”

Asked what it takes to run a place like this, Thando said: “You have to be dedicated and give all your time. Most of the times I am here from 9am to closing time. I don’t have a social life, and not in a bad way, this is my social life right here. We try to serve people well and make them feel comfortable and give them the best time.”

Thando continued: “We are about nine months old. We are all about fine dining, date nights, wine tasting, and so forth. Occasionally we host small parties, and it would look like a club, but it is not.”

The restaurant has a private dining area called Mazwakhe, which is named after Thando’s grandfather, who was a chef.  

What sets Lyve Cafe apart from other restaurants in town?

“We are unique. We stand out in a totally different way – from our name to our logo and the décor,” he said. “My uncle, brothers and I came together to put this place together. We wanted to build a legacy.

Talking about his vision for the restaurant, Thando said: “I want us to be known, to be experienced and to be spoken about. We’d love our customers to leave this place thinking about when they’d be back again.”

Asked what makes his team great to lead, Thando said he has always believed that communication is key.

“Once you have set good communication foundation with your staff, you are able to communicate with each one at their level. We don’t treat people differently. We are family. You’d find someone from the front helping with something in the back, and vice versa. We are not defined by roles. We are about 9 staff members.”

Like many restaurants in South Africa, Lyve Cafe was affected by the lockdown restrictions.

“Covid-19 affected us a lot. Our best bet was to join Mr Delivery like we just did – to help us run as long as we could without having to shut down.”

Thando also shared what it is about his personality that enabled him to run a restaurant.

“I am very open-minded. I don’t restrict myself to anything. I have discipline and respect. I am friendly; that allows me to communicate with everybody and I treat everyone equally.”

After having my chat with Thando, I was joined by Sous Chef Kabelo Ratlhotshe, who prepared me his signature dish: a slow-braised oxtail stew with red wine jus, served with potato puree and baby vegetables.  

Kabelo, who started his culinary career with Sun International, has been with the restaurant since it’s opening. He said: “I am learning a lot and growing with the brand. This place made me fall in love even more with my work and creativity. I was affected by the lock down and got retrenched. At some point I lost hope. Through chef Charles Montshiwa I got to know of this restaurant. And when I got to Lyve Cafe, I got an opportunity to lead. And it was an honour; I was grateful.”

He added: “What attracted me to this restaurant is the concept of fine dining; and it is classy. My roots are in the Northern Cape. At some point I wanted to come back to the province and through this job I was able to.”

About the menu, Kabelo said: “Our dishes are dominated by lamb. Lamb forms part of the Karoo since we are in the Karoo region. For instance, we have the Karoo lamb rack, lamb riblets, lamb neck, lamb shank, and so forth.”

Kabelo leads a small team in the kitchen. “I am the only male and youngest in the kitchen. As a leader, give your team respect, love, support, and encouragement.”

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