The Tocuma Indigenous Restaurant, a family owned and operated Amerindian cuisine eatery, was yesterday launched at the Amerindian Village of the Sophia Exhibition Centre.
The Andrews family of Moraikobai, headed by former Toshao Colin Andrews, is on a mission to make the local cuisine of the indigenous peoples more readily available.
Colin Andrews said the decision to launch the restaurant also satisfied a desire to provide a market for other local indigenous products.
Speaking at the launch, he said he had often been part of conversations that questioned why it was only during Heritage month that the indigenous cuisine would be available.
Realizing that indigenous restaurants in the city are close to non-existent, he and his five daughters executed a vision to open a traditional restaurant where persons can visit and enjoy the cuisine all year round.
Additionally, he noted that his previous experience as Toshao has made him realize that the markets for indigenous products are not readily available.
Because of this, the restaurant will be looking to see how it can best help indigenous communities around the country market their products whether it be art and craft or fresh produce from their farms.
He said that the ingredients used in the meal preparation will be coming directly from indigenous communities from varying regions of Guyana, adding that the aim is to provide employment and markets for the indigenous people through the restaurant.
“It’s not only about the Andrews family but also about the many indigenous communities out there,” he said, while going on to express the hope that with the support of future customers, the growth of the restaurant will allow them to develop more marketing strategies so that they all give a helping hand to assist indigenous people across the country.
Advisor to the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Mervyn Williams congratulated the family on what he described as being an initiative that showcased national identity since it is not just about food but also the indigenous people and they represent.
He noted that the launch of the restaurant is not only about establishing new markets for the indigenous products but a method of ensuring that the customs and practices of the indigenous people are captured, packaged and marketed in a sustainable way.
He challenged the family to consider registering the business and developing the brand into something that can be expanded into a franchise someday.
“Let us see Tocuma in the ten regions of Guyana, let us involve people who can contribute and provide support for the visionary idea that can help blossom it into something national that all Guyana can be proud of,” he charged.
The Tocuma Indigenous Restaurant will be located next door to the Tropicana Inn on Waterloo Street and will be officially opened to the public on Tuesday from 11 am.