In this third episode of The Customer Journey series, I am in a restaurant resembling Freddy’s BBQ Joint, the restaurant of choice of Frank Underwood in Netflix’s House Of Cards. Here, the joint is located in a cosy and busy neighbourhood in Kinshasa DRC; if you are not familiar with the district or the street, you miss the joint. It is tiny, it has no outdoor signs, no name, no address. It’s a no-frills place, it has no decorum, no menu, no waiters. It’s the Mama who comes with the meals straight from the kitchen and she knows almost everyone. I am introduced to her by a friend who is a regular.
It is packed. 80% of the clientele consists of senior staffs of embassies, public offices, parliament, the army, the police, etc.. In general, these men – all powerful and influential – are always flanked by security and entourage everywhere they go. But when it’s time for this joint, they come solo or with minimal company. There are a few well-dressed ladies, some belonging to the local bourgeoisie, others are socialites.
I am not allowed to take pictures of the patrons as they are busy with huge portions of food, buckets of drinks and ice and their whispers and chit-chats. Clearly they relish the fact that the joint is out of the public eye, far from the main avenues of Kinshasa. This no-photo, be-discrete restriction fits my quest of the day: what really drives the patrons to search for indulgence in their busy days and to spend lavishly in this joint? Who tastes the feeling, sparkles the experience, serves as a guide for the customer journey in exclusive environments?