Outlet owners of the growing shisa nyama industry have become entertainment trailblazers, adding something unique to their offerings in an effort to attract new customers.
Whether it takes the form of a distinctive blend of spices to go with their meat cuts or a variety of scrumptious dishes, or music or security for patrons, outlets are sparing no effort to keep customers coming back and gain new ones.
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City Press visited Eyadini Lounge, one of the most popular shisa nyamas in Durban, and found that the man behind the outlet, Jabulani “Mjay” Nzama, introduced his own outstanding touch to keep patrons happy: There is a photographer on site, 24/7.
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Guests are photographed as they enter the premises. The pictures are then posted on social media platforms. Those with dancing feet soon trend on social media, which attracts more viewers – and more potential customers.
“People like to see their pictures. To attract customers, I had to bring something unique. And it works for the business,” Mjay smiles.
The last time City Press visited Eyadini Lounge, located in a double-storey house, was two years ago, when it hosted the pre-party for the Metro FM Music Awards. Back then, the venue was not as popular and as spacious as it is now.
One of the regulars these days is Zodwa Libram, (31), who dances for the fun of it. There is no business transaction between her and Eyadini Lounge — she dances for the fun of it. Her seductive moves turn heads and have earned her the title of “dancing queen”. Zodwa often attracts unsolicited competitors from all over KwaZulu-Natal. Unfortunately, she was not in the house when City Press visited this time.
Nzama, a retired policeman, makes it his business to mingle with the crowd, ensuring each guest gets a minute of his attention.
He reckons that engaging with his patrons is essential for his venue to keep thriving.
He admits to being vigilant as competition is tight. A mere 300 metres away is the neighbouring Max’s Liifestyle that has been running for a longer time, yet Eyadini Lounge has taken over. However, Mjay says he enjoys healthy competition.
“My secret is simple. I am not bigger than my customers. They are important to me,” he says.
His hang-out, which can accommodate up to 2 500 guests, has drawn a variety of customers, from ordinary citizens to celebrities, politicians and international tourists.
He has grown his venue’s capacity to enable it to host world-class, extravagant events such as the Vodacom Durban July and the Metro FM Music Awards and after parties.
Durbanites sometimes book the venue for affairs ranging from birthdays to wedding parties and baby or bridal showers.
While we chat, I witness a man proposing to his high-school sweetheart. This solicits huge applause from the tables nearby.
Nzama recalls the time he brought in an artist to perform who charged more than R180 000. He did so to please his customers. He has also bought a state-of-the-art sound system.
“I have in-house deejays to entertain the crowd,” he says.
This time, one of the resident deejays plays Gqom music (a genre of popular music in Durban, referred to as being a more minimal or raw variant of South African house music). It gets the crowd on their feet, dancing with the abandon of 16-year-olds.
However, this entrepreneur, who has been running his business for six years, did not have it easy at first. “When I started out, all alcohol suppliers neglected me. They did not believe I could pull off this business. But with hard work, and perseverance, I am where I am today.”
Although proud of the fact that he has created 150 jobs for locals, he says he still has a long way to go.
“I am not successful yet. I am still a millionaire in the making,” he laughs.
“My vision is to build a nightclub. Black people do not own nightclubs in Durban. I want to be the first.
City Press also visited Igagasi Carwash & Shisanyama in Alberton. Click here to see a full gallery of the festivities
Rarely do you find a drinking spot that changes its clientele three times in a day, like this one.
Visit the place on weekends, and you will find families and friends enjoying a braai while waiting for their cars to be washed.
At first glance, you would swear the establishment was a family car wash business. But come the afternoon, it transforms into a laid-back, jazzy and high-end restaurant for middle-class patrons, who indulge in a variety of meat cuts that they buy themselves and then have barbecued to their taste by the staff.
As evening falls, the venue morphs into something completely different as deejays change the tune and tempo of songs. Younger folk take over the dance floor and party till the wee hours, while the rest of the crowd enjoys the ambience of this top-class outdoor tavern.
The owner, Sakhile Dube, says his business plan was to turn weekends into family days.
The popular venue has been inundated with requests to host end-of-year events.
You will notice the varying types of patrons who frequent the venue according to the time of day, simply by seeing the change of cars in the parking lot.
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