A Taste of Wilderness

Shannon SmithIf you think that being in the service industry is purely about providing a service, you’re in the wrong industry. The service industry is so much more than that. It is people, it’s authenticity. And most importantly – It is the feeling your clients walk away with once they leave your enterprise.

Being a Wilderness girl, I’m pretty laid back. No, I don’t need my water served in a wine glass – Or even out of a bottle, for that matter. I don’t think it’s necessary for waiters to be stiff & overly-formal with shiny shoes & cloths draped strategically over their forearms. Nothing is going to be spilled there, & if there is – I’d suggest maybe opting for a different line of work.

That being said, this is how it is for most restaurants today. Which is fine, if you’re into that sort of thing. But if you’re on holiday, going out for some drinks, or you just came back from a surf, an outdoor festival, or even if you’re casually going down into the village for your morning grub & a read through the newspaper – You really don’t need the glitz & glam that most critics say you need. No, no – You deserve much, much more than that.

As I sit (barefioot) at the picnic style table, I observe everything & everyone around me in this colourful establishment. From the chatter of the birds in the tree above me, to the constant back & forth banter of the staff completely in their element. Always laughing & joking; Hugs & smiles a common commodity around here – I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with a feeling of love & comfort. And I’m not the only one. Holiday-makers walk in & immediately feel at ease when the waitress energetically greets them with a happy smile & a “Howzit, Welcome to Cocomos!” just as another chants to a couple on their way out, “Enjoy the rest of your day, & don’t forget to smile!” Naturally, a smile breaks out across my face too. Happiness is contagious, you see.

I continue sipping my green tea from the hand made & painted ceramic crockery, & my smile gets bigger as the staff greet regulars by name and the smell of oven baked pizza fills my nostrils. People & food. Yes, the key to happiness is that easy. Having spent the weekend indulging, I vouch for the Butternut & Haloumi Salad. Which actually isn’t a salad at all, but more like a field day for my taste buds. The fresh rocket adds a delicate crunch to the massive layer of roasted butternut. Flavoursome baby spinach leaves adds some greenery, & I can’t help but close my eyes when I get a forkful of it with soft feta & a plump cherry tomato. I dive in for another forkful with haloumi cheese & some butternut. I hear a satisfying groan leave my body. This is decadent. All too soon, I finish my plate of awesome; Savouring each bite, hoping that somehow my cranberry glaze will multiply so that I can maybe secretly lick it off my plate while nobody is watching. But alas, my eating experience has come to an end & as I place my knife & fork back down on my plate, I see the stage in front of me fill up with musicians.

Musicians! What a pleasure. Not just today either. Every single evening, musicians fill this place with lively tunes from soul music to jazzy funk & bongo drums. Even bagpipes make an appearance here, & it is truly mesmerising. My plate is cleared by a waitress barring interesting tattoos & beautiful dreadlocks tied neatly back & a habitual smile spread across her face. A passing musician with a guitar case in one hand promptly hi-fives her with his free hand as she whizzes around to the next table. I shift my focus to the barman who is rather loud, effortlessly convincing an indecisive couple to have another Tequila because the fun is just about to start. “Oh alright,” they eventually laugh, “If you insist!”. Which they always do. I can feel myself getting sucked in, & it must’ve been obvious because I am soon asked by a waitor with a dazzling smile & twinkling eyes, “A cocktail for you, my lady?” What a question. Green tea & a salad plus….. Cocktails? Hmm. His presense continues to dazzle as I continue to contemplate. Sound check has started. My heart beats a little faster as it entices excitement deep within me. Another waitor whoops  energetically, “I can not wait to finish early so that I can jam here tonight!!” I gawk. In what world do people want to be at work after they’re done with work??? “Yes please, I’d love a cocktail!” I abruptly decide.

Well, that changed things. After my cocktail arrived minutes later & friends started gathering around me, I packed my lap top away after ordering another & got involved with the “Gees” of The Village. A night of excellent music, fun & laughter followed, after originally planning to go for a salad. And that’s the effect this place has on people. Not only this establishment in particular, but the whole of Wilderness is a place of peace & freedom that I’ve never felt anywhere else. So next time you feel like filling your tummy, ask yourself this: “What kind of experience do I feel like treating myself to today?”

-Shannon Smith, Wilderness

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