At your service

Spotong chats to leading liquor traders

Mary’s Inn

Owner: Mary Msibi

Organisation: SALTA

Location: 3616 Grace Ntseni Street, Alexandra

How did you get into the tavern trade?

I am struggling to get a proper trading license so that I can operate as a tavern. I am currently trading on a shebeen permit and I really want to be recognised as a tavern owner.

I started very small in 1999 until I finally got my shebeen permit in 2007. I started because I wanted to be my own boss. Before I started, I belonged to many Stokvel groups, namely, the Castle Lite Stokvel, The OGs of Alexandra and the Hunter’s Dry Stokvel. I used my stokvel money to grow my business. Mary’s Inn is now also the “unofficial” clubhouse for Pirates supporters – but Chiefs fans are also welcome!

What challenges do you face in this industry?

I am struggling to get a proper trading license so that I can operate as a tavern. I am currently trading on a shebeen permit and I really want to be recognised as a tavern owner. Another challenge that I face is the desire to separate my business and my home. It is difficult when you operate your business from your home because you cannot rest properly.

How do you encourage your patrons to drink responsibly?

I always encourage my patrons to eat before they start drinking and I do have meals that I provide for them at a small cost. I also encourage them to drink water. When you enter my tavern, there is a big sign saying that states “No children allowed” and “No under 21s.” I know that the legal age to drink is 18 but I changed that rule to suit my tavern because the youngsters are the ones who don’t know how to drink responsibly.

How do you give back to your community?

I will assist anyone who requires some form of assistance and if I am able to help then they can definitely count on me! In my community, I always help with funerals of the people who have passed on. That is my way of giving back to those who have supported me.

Vivian’s Place

Owner: Sharon Hlapa Teffo

Organisation: SALTA

Location: 125 Corner 8th Route, Alexandra

How did you get into the tavern trade?

My parents started the tavern in 1993 and I grew up in this tavern. The tavern is named after my mom and it is our family legacy. In 2004 my husband, Sammy, and I took over the running of the tavern. My parents have since retired in Limpopo and they are now pensioners.

What challenges do you face in this industry?

Right now my main challenge is that our permits expire on 2 November 2019 and I am really worried that we won't be able to renew our permits because the laws regarding permits change all the time. I want to continue operating legally with either a renewed permit or a liquor trading license but we need assistance on the way forward because we are responsible traders.

How do you give back to your community?

I assist my community members and give back by allowing them to prepare and sell food outside of my tavern. In that way, the community members also benefit and my patrons have a wide variety of food to choose from so no-one ever goes hungry.

Do you have future plans for your tavern?

My future plans include renovating and leaving a successful business to the next generation so I am actively growing this business for them. I also want my business to assist more communities and community members. There is an old-age home next door and I would like to do more for them as a business.