C-Grill the rage in Lower Cross

2017-11-30 06:01
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lowercaseLunga Adam

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A trio of young men from Lower Crossroads, who have opened a chesa nyama business in the area amid much fanfare, are banking on its location to do the trick for them and their prospects of success.

Situated at the tail end of Ngqwangi Drive, a stone’s throw from the Luzuko Park taxi rank, C-Grill House is a chesanyama with a difference; one rarely found in the neck of the jungle before. It is an idea that was brought to light by pals Qhamani Xaka, Nceba Kili and Luxolo Msi, all of whom have regular jobs by day, but are so determined to bring this service to their Kasi.

To think that, only in March this year, they only had one business next to their collective name, an internet cafe run from a single container on the opposite end of Ngqwangi Drive, near the Philippi East police station. They then saw a gap in the market, and pounced when the opportunity arose.

Luxolo explains, “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to extend from just owning an internet cafe. We wanted to be big. All this was inspired by a lack. It’s something that was needed.

When you talk about Lower Crossroads, where can you go to chill? Qhamani and Nceba have experience in the entertainment industry (as DJs) and they play all over. They see these things. So we thought, why not bring that home? The same quality we get at all these place is what we want to provide here.”

There has been so much hype around the place that, last Saturday afternoon, I decided to go and see it all for myself. Upon entering, I am met by Qhamani and Luxolo, while Nceba is out on another commitment. It is a work in progress, this butchery. After ordering meat, one can choose to sit inside or enjoy the view of passersby and the attendant hustle and bustle outside.

The piece of land on which the business takes pride of place is owned by Themba Ngwane, owner of Ngwane’s Bottle Store. Twisting his hand was as easy as snatching candy from a kid, they tell me.

“It just hit us that we have an internet café in the Barcelona section of Lower Crossroads, meaning people from the other sections as well as from Luzuko have to walk the distance to get this service. So we thought if we could open another branch, ideally this side, it would accommodate these people. What’s more, Mr Ngwane used to have an internet café right at this spot before. For years, I’ve always had his mobile number. I called him on the spot,” an enthusiastic Qhamani reveals.

Ngwane told them the idea of reviving his internet cafe was a brilliant one, but that talk is cheap.

Qhamani adds, “He said many people had approached him wanting to use that space, but they never implemented their ideas. We asked him to give us a time frame to sort ourselves out. In the same conversation, we also suggested a butchery, also mindful that there once was also a butchery there. I understand the technicalities that led to its demise.”

This was in July. By September, they had to have had the groundwork laid out. “I remember on our first day of work, we finished around 01h00,” quips Luxolo. But they believe in being hands-on. Whatever money they make at the internet cafe, they invest it back into their new business venture.

“Why the name C-Grill House?” I ask.

Replies Qhamani, “We have an already existing business called C-Online. It’s more like ‘si online’. So we’ve kept to the ‘C’ tradition. But this one means Corner Grill House since we are situated at the corner. Previously, it was known as Ngwane’s Butchery. The reason we want to use our own name is that we don’t want to ride on another man’s wave. We explained to him that we don’t want our failure, Lord forbid, to be associated with him.”

They sell meat like pork, sausage, chicken and beef, as well as pap and stews. Soft drinks are also on sale. People are allowed to come with their own beverage and there is a corkage fee for coolers and other things.

“But people have to bear in mind that the bottle store is just down the road, so there are no logistics. Our operational times are 09h00 to 20h00 weekdays and 08h00 to 22h00 weekends,” says 28-year-old Qhamani, a final-year Computer Systems student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

According to Luxolo, they are trying to create a lifestyle in a community associated with negativity and backwardness. He reckons the fact that all of them grew up in the area stands them in good stead. “Our meat is very nice,” he boasts.

The duo says the security aspect is well taken care of and that they are not ignorant of the crime statistics of Philippi East. Instead, they say they are open to working together with the surrounding community and the police. They also work hand-in-hand with a local car wash, so motorists can pop in while having their cars washed.

Entertainment is galore, what with resident DJs on the decks – Sisa Xhaga, aka DJ Sisqo and DJ Hasco. Despite his young age, Qhamani is an old hand on the deejaying scene and says he will try his best to woo some interesting names to liven up the venue now and again. “I’ve done some people some favours and it’s time they return the kindness,” he laughs. On a more serious note, he says theirs is to change the face of Lower Crossroads and that the positives should always outweigh the negatives.

As a parting shot, Luxolo is asking of local people to be open to change, adding, “They must come and have fun here. This must be the place that releases that ‘feel good’ hormone. As I left, people were trickling in, and I was lekker full my bro. Their nyama is so, so mnca.

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