The Portuguese Place is located in the fringes of the Central Business District, far from the madding crowd.
wIt is an unassuming one story building, courageously facing the cruel desolate street of half naked hookers.
The ground floor was dedicated to serving Portuguese cuisine, while the first floor hosted a cosy bar of fine liquor.
A Portuguese couple ran the place with the epitomy of efficiency.
Tables with sparkling white linen, respectful staff, cold beer, mouthwatering meals of sea food and roast chicken, and soulful music on Friday nights.
The Portuguese Place became so popular that on Friday nights, parking space on the outside and a place at a table on the inside became priceless. You had to book for both in advance, upon payment of a reservation fee.
Someone was hired to guard the cars.
Spending Friday night at the Portuguese Place was an achievement, an assertion of affluence and influence, a symbol of status.
A gratification of ego.
The patrons were mostly white, who spoke with patronizing deference to the few black patrons, as if the few black patrons deserved a pat on the back for qualifying into the elite club, for being cultured.
A pet and master kind of relationship.
Couples chatted amiably and danced with dignity into dawn to serenading music that spoke to the soul.
The lonesome black lawyer patronised the Portuguese Place on Friday nights. He qualified because he lived nearby, and because he was friends with the barman. He liked the cold beer, and the ambience.
Because of the free fall of the Zimbabwean economy, the Portuguese couple that ran the Portuguese Place left it in the hands of their staff and retreated into forced retirement.
Against all odds, the Portuguese Place is still open for business, and the ninety nine percent black patrons who now frequent it, argue endlessly about whether sanctions or misrule crippled the Zimbabwean economy.
The main meal of chicken and chips is still served hot, but the chips are sometimes underdone and emit a crunchy raw taste. Most fine liquor is missing from the shelves, and the few available local beverages are cold but expensive.
Parking space is available, but patrons compete for the space closest to the entrance, for they fear the smash and grab thieves who target cars in the outlying areas.
No one guards the cars anymore.
The music of Andy Brown and Jah Prayser booms from the ground floor, and few dinners munch their meals in morbid silence.
A bunch of rowdy youths stagger into the Portuguese Place, and dance wildly to the booming music with shameless sexual suggestiveness.
The black lonesome lawyer who was watching the scandalous dancers rose from the bar stool and staggered to his car, wondering why rulers rejoice, when everywhere, ambience has been replaced by resilience.