Night clubs bite the dust

HARARE - Night club owners say escalating rentals and the depressed economy are forcing investors in this line of business to close shop on a regular basis.

Over the last couple of years, several trendy night clubs and pubs have closed shop.

The list of closed clubs include Kebab Centre and #5 on Drew Chisipite, both owned by Eddie “Kebab” Zviitwa, Josh Hozheri’s Jazz 105, Babra “Mai Redrose” Chikosi’s Sports Diner, The Grain Lounge, Biggie Chinoperekwei’s Airport Lounge, Club Mekka, Circus Nite Club and Club Synergy.

Former Jazz 105 proprietor, Josh Hozheri has blamed the ongoing night club closures largely on greedy landlords who regularly increase rentals despite the adverse economic outlook.

Hozheri’s Jazz 105 shut down its operations in 2012 after a spike in rentals.

“The main issue was the high rental cost,” said Hozheri who has since relocated to Pamuzinda Ice and Fire on the outskirts of Harare, along Bulawayo road.

“The rental was charged on the basis of the square metres we occupied. Running a pub is different from running a supermarket, we make different profits.”

He added that running a night club in a rented building was becoming increasingly difficult due to the profiteering culture that has engulfed Zimbabwe.

“Sound town planning is no longer being practised so much that everything is being commercialised. All rentals are being pegged with a profiteering motive. Before everything went haywire, I was paying $1 800 in rentals, and all of a sudden the lease owner wanted me to pay $12 000,” he said.

“That is a lot of money and obviously, I could not afford it, even if you negotiate the price will remain high. The building is owned by Lapf but, the lease was being held by a third party who wanted to make me pay those high rentals on the assumption that I was making a lot of money.”

Hozheri also attributed the night club closures to the depressed economy.

“Another contributing factor to the closures of entertainment joints is the economy; it’s biting everyone. When people have less disposable income, they will obviously stop going to clubs or pubs and the turnovers for those businesses also drop.”

Another popular night club proprietor, Biggie Chinoperekwei concurred with Hozheri on the serious economic challenges affecting  the local entertainment scene but was quick to add that some clubs were failing to adapt to new circumstances.

“The economy affects us yes, and people are now resorting to drinking at bottle stores as well as drinking at home. The bars are expensive to run as they employ more staff like waitresses, cleaners, and security personnel.

“But it’s not only entertainment joints that are affected, the economy affects all businesses. Look at how many businesses are closing — supermarkets, bakeries and so on. Even the rentals contribute but they are not the main factor behind the closures.”

Chinoperekwei added that night clubs and pubs lose relevance over time.

“It has always been like that, clubs have been closing over time. When a new place opens, people rush there, but with time they go back to their usual places when fatigue sets in.

“Bars and clubs have a life cycle and if you make the mistake of keeping the same management which does not change themes or is not innovative, you will definitely shut down,” he said.

“Music tastes change as well. Right now, the favourite music genre is Zimdancehall therefore club owners have to find a way of incorporating that into their programmes to stay relevant.”

 

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