On Thursday November 1, Zunia Boucher-Myers and business partner, Melanie Paltoglou, celebrated the 16th anniversary of opening their dream restaurant at Avontuur Wine Estate outside Somerset West.
It all started when Melanie was approached by the late Tony Taberer, the then owner of Avontuur, who asked her if she would like to open a restaurant at Avontuur.
Zunia takes up the story: “Mel and I had worked together, she as executive chef and me as pastry chef, and she asked me if I would like to come along and take a look. Since my employment contract to come to an end, I had nothing to lose, so I went along and we just decided to do it.
“I started here in early October and Mel joined me in early November when she had worked out her notice. When we started here it was very different. We started with two buffets but Mr Taberer wanted a fully fledged restaurant. After about eight months he saw the potential. He closed the restaurant for about two months and renovated it completely. What you see today was his vision.”
But it has not been without a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. “When you’re a solo-preneur (Zunia’s term for people who start and run their own business), there’s nobody to step in when you have a broken knee or you struggling with migraines. You just have to get the job done.
“I’m a type A personality and Mel isn’t so we’ve had our ups and downs, but we have always had a clear vision.
“Mel takes care of the books and I take care of the social media, marketing and fostering our connection with the public, and I built up these components over the years. Mel is incredibly talented and she does an amazing job in the kitchen.”
And the hard work has not been in vain. On Thursday October 18, Avontuur Restaurant was announced the winner in the Bistro category, Western Cape, at the 2018 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries awards. “I can still remember the words in the citation when we were given the award ‘I want to thank you for the hundred kindnesses that you do behind-the-scenes that we don’t know anything about’,” says Zunia. “It’s this which makes all the hard work worthwhile. I’ve got those words burned into my brain.”