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.

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.

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 KwaZu­luNatal. 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 prepar­ties and af­ter­par­ties.

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.

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.

TALK TO US Is it good busi­ness, or is it mis­lead­ing the pub­lic, for en­trepreneurs to of­fer some­thing ex­tra?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word NYAMA and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50


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POP­U­LAR HANG-OUT Eya­dini Lounge is the favourite shisa nyama out­let in Dur­ban, run by the inim­itable Jab­u­lani ‘Mjay’ Nzama (in­set)


MEET­ING SPOT speakeasy Iga­gasi cus­tomers re­lax and en­joy their drinks in this


FUN TIMES Sakhile Dube, owner of Iga­gasi Car­wash & Shisanyama, makes a point of meet­ing and min­gling with pa­trons


THE PLACE TO BE Um­lazi in Dur­ban Eya­dini Lounge in


GROOVING A pa­tron at Eya­dini Lounge dances to the mu­sic

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