Mongoose on da loose!
Stressful, but well, laughs Tracey, a few days after a spectacularly successful live event which featured the legendary PJ Powers singing for charity. “We had such a fabulous turnout. I’m still wondering how we managed to fit everyone in! It was a first for me, having a celebrity like that, so it was a learning curve and fortunately it went off without any issues. I definitely plan to have more events like that.”
Steve Hyson, the previous owner of Da Loose Mongoose, started it up from scratch. It has always been a much-loved local hang-out where long, laid-back lunches are spent under the trees while the kids safely scamper around the sprawling lawn. Tracey and Steve go way back, and when he spoke of selling, she knew she had to jump at the chance.
“Sue and I had been involved in Zanna’s for a long time, and I needed a new challenge. This coincided with Steve saying he was thinking of selling. I saw Da Loose Mongoose as an excellent challenge for me, and also the huge potential in the venue was just what I was looking for.”
One of the Mongoose’s main attractions is the space. There is ample room and not only that, but the fact that it’s outdoors, under the trees and in the fresh air goes a long way towards giving it the reputation and atmosphere it’s famous for.
“The thing I love most is the country feel,” smiles Tracey. “You can bring your dogs, your kids or just yourself. Parents can sit and chill knowing their children are safe, you can spend a relaxing afternoon reading a book or a romantic evening under lantern and starlight. Make no mistake though, there is lots of maintenance and hard work involved.”
Tracey has big plans for her country spot. The basics are very much the same as they have always been, but there are a few things that are different. She decided to close on Mondays, to give everyone a break, but Sundays have been given a boost with live music every afternoon from 4pm to 7pm.
“If we are going to be open on a Sunday afternoon, which is normally a quiet time, I thought we might as well make it count, and arranged for there to be music – whether it’s a band or a solo singer or musician. And we try to keep it local for the most part, as there are so many talented people in the Lowveld, right on our doorstep.
“The music has proven to be most popular, and many a Sunday is whiled away under the trees with a cold beer or glass of wine and a pizza, and the vibe is amazing. It is a chilled afternoon before the week’s rush starts up again, people love it! There is also a pizza/pasta special, with 50% off the cheapest meal.”
The food is certainly worth looking into. Scrumptious pizzas, decadent desserts, robust, hearty main meals and delicious snacks abound on a diverse menu that is constantly being refined.
Also on the agenda for the near future is a monthly themed market, and also an events venue for the hosting of special occasions such as parties or celebrations. Each occasion will be looked at individually, according to budget, requirements and customer preference. Tracey is adamant that Da Loose Mongoose always retains its casual and flexible vibe, and still be known as a venue where value for money is key. “After all,” she muses, “budgets are not quite as accommodating as they used to be and economically, times are tough, but people still want to be spoilt and fussed over, and there is no reason why they can’t get that here.”
Customers will certainly attest to the fact that this is simply a fabulous place. Stop in after work for an ice-cold beer, catch up with friends over a bottle of red wine, bring the kids for a milkshake and let them ride their bikes or run wild, or simply bring a loved one and watch the sun set with one of Tracey’s delicious Inverroche amber gins splashed over ice, an absolute must with finely balanced citrus flavours, earthy essences and floral notes which on a hot Lowveld summer’s day are simply sublime – a deliciously tantalising balm for the soul.