There are few places in Uganda’s 56 year history that have opened their doors daily; Sardinia restaurant is one of the few.
Located on one of Kampala’s oldest streets, Dewinton Road named for a long dead British colonial officer, Sardinia has been serving the elite since the 1960s.
Sardinia Restaurant opened its doors in 1952, a decade before Uganda’s independence October 9, 1962. Situated near the Parliament of Uganda, the national theatre, almost from the beginning Sardinia owner Beatrice Cha Piu found herself serving the men and women who were shaping Uganda’s destiny.
Godfrey, a long time employee of Sardinia, and resident chef since 1992 remembers a time when current government heavyweights like General Pecos Kutesa and many members of parliament were regulars.
Sardinia quickly became the epicentre to go if you wanted to know what was happening in Uganda. Egyptian expatriate Max Hassouna considers Sardinia almost a second home. He has been having lunch at the restaurant since he was a boy with his brother.
As soon as he could come back to Uganda after the downfall of the President Idi Amin regime 1979 that had overseen the expulsion of Asians, Sardinia was one of the first places he wanted to return to.
Chef Godfrey believes that Sardinia has been able to weather all Uganda’s economic hardships because of the careful stewardship of the Piu family. The restaurant is now managed by Beatrice’s two daughters with Helena Cha Piu running it on a day to day basis.
Godfrey says Sardinia has been careful to retain its identity instead of trying to chase fads. Walking into Sardinia is like walking into a comfortable, familiar past. The walls are wood pannelled, old style lights illuminate the room, and there is none of that ruckus of music that makes intimate conversations impossible. Life in Sardinia restaurant seems paced to make you relax.
The character of Dewinto road has changed dramatically in the five decades since Uganda attained her independence. However, Sardinia is not the only throwback that clings on in modern Uganda. Nostalgic visitors can also drop into La Bella restaurant or City Annex Hotel to relieve a Uganda of the 1980s and 1990s.
Customers and the service in Sardinia are on first name basis. Some customers do not have give their order, the waiters know what they prefer and serve them. No change reigns in Sardinia restaurant and the customers seem to prefer it that way.