Riemland Country Stop: Discover an oasis for food, fun, and community engagement

Besides encouraging one to completely ignore one’s budget, this delightful pit stop is hailed far and wide for its superb setting, attractive interior, friendly service and variety of products.

Ever since my childhood, when we used to drive endless kilometres in my dad’s sturdy black Chev from our home in Bethlehem to KwaZulu-Natal for our annual holiday, nothing excited me more than a bite at a swanky corner café in one of the towns along the route, where we were treated to restaurant fare, instead of mom’s sandwiches, boiled eggs and moerkoffie.

Fast forward. Stepping inside the Riemland Country Stop – where we recently refuelled in the small Free State town of Petrus Steyn on our way from Johannesburg to Clarens – I experienced the same pit stop fever and nostalgia.

This time around, however, the experience was in a class of its own; the vast offering on a far superior level. Besides encouraging one to completely ignore one’s budget, this delightful oasis is hailed far and wide for its superb setting, attractive interior, friendly service and variety of products.

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

A vision for revitalising Petrus Steyn

It subtly encourages you, proverbially speaking, to overstep the line once you’ve taken out your wallet. Comprising, among others, a delightful bistro (including a private dining room with exquisite art works), conference facilities, a gift shop, grocery store and superior butchery with the most divine meat and biltong packs, Riemland Country Store is the epitome of elegance and style.

Experiencing the deterioration and decay of rural South Africa first-hand, a far-sighted Riemlander with a big heart for his hometown and its people, decided it was paramount that Petrus Steyn should survive.

When the old BP service station and its kiosk had served its time and needed to be rebuilt, his plans started taking shape to expand the set-up into a far more comprehensive venue that would put Petrus Steyn on the proverbial map.

“Of the utmost importance for us was that each and every person who set foot in the Riemland Country Stop, should experience a clean, welcoming, safe and peaceful atmosphere where they could stretch their legs and enjoy nourishment for body and soul,” explains a spokesperson.

“To this end, the project required thorough planning and for everyone involved to work closely together. It certainly was not always easy, but amid the dust and cement, our fairytale venture started taking shape.

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Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

The multi-faceted appeal of the Riemland Country Store Bistro

“Today we are proud, but humble, that our hard work paid off.” In the bistro, every item on the comprehensive menu is freshly prepared in the spacious kitchen, and an array of freshly baked cakes, biscuits, rusks, pies, quiches, you name it, is available daily (also on order).

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

It is quite unique, insofar as it includes tables with computer plugs for the convenience of visitors who need to work on their laptops or check e-mails, using the venue’s Wi-Fi password. In addition, it sports a dedicated “charge your battery” area, where visitors can charge their cellphones and laptops. While waiting, they can page through a variety of magazines and newspapers available at a comfortable wooden server.

And while parents relax inside, kids, big and small, can play in a safe environment, both inside the bistro and outside where the playing fountain is a firm favourite.

For customers in a hurry, a wide array of take-away snacks is prepared in the blink of an eye. Alternatively, those who want to celebrate a special occasion with friends in private can reserve the dining room, where they will be treated to hearty meals.

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Picture: Supplied

Unforgettable shopping and community engagement

(Remember to book way in advance to avoid disappointment.) And should you wish to surprise your friends or loved ones with a special gift, you are bound to find something to their liking in the cosy gift shop, A spacious venue, equipped with a big TV screen, is also available for meetings, conferences and other special occasions.

With 70 seats inside and 60 outside, the venue can easily accommodate 130 people, who can order a variety of dishes. Again, booking is essential.

The ultimate shopping experience awaits you at the exquisite country butchery where you can pick and choose between a variety of biltong packs, not to mention specialties such as game, beef and mutton kebabs (sosaties), krulstertjies, Riemland oepsies, chicken/ lamb skilpadjies, home-made polony, cold cuts, Viennas, salamis smoked cheese sausages, pork rib, vlegseltjies (plaits), curry lamb chops, oxtail, beef tongue… the list goes on and on.

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

The toilets and cloak rooms, which also cater for disabled people and Muslim citizens, are free and sparkling – another talking point on Tripadvisor. Reminders to ensure that you do not forget your mobile phone or other belongings, are clearly visible.

The owners and employees support various institutions, including the town’s primary school, as well as other schools in the area and the old-age home. Both the Q4 service station group and Riemland Country Stop sponsor outfits for kids. In addition, Riemland Country Stop not only contributes by way of diesel and cash to keep the town in mint condition, it also organises an annual fund-raising event to this end.

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