Ensimini Jazz Lounge

Face the challenge head on

Dawn Park, East Rand, Johannesburg

Owner: Martin Hlongwe

 How long have you been running your business?

Make sure you are passionate about whatever you want to do.

I started the business in 2007 after I left my job as a sales rep at Distell. When we first started, my patrons used to drink on the premises, but now we are strictly take away. The reason for this is we noticed that in our area, patrons enjoy drinking more at home, so we took out the option of sit-ins completely. Now and then I will allow people to bring-and-braai in the yard. I don’t sell any food, only alcohol. I also have a spaza shop on the premises for convenience products.

Do you run your business alone?

My business is family run. I work closest with my daughter Mami, who is also the heir to the business. I spend a lot of time with her to transfer skills and knowledge. She can basically run the business alone at this stage.

How do you handle difficult clients?

One just has to bite the bullet and face the challenge head on. It’s important to engage drunk patrons in a humane manner. I have never found myself in situation I could not handle.

How do you give back to the community?

I sometimes give donations to the youth for transport money to go for job interviews in the city. I also enjoy donating to the community in general.

What are your top-selling brands?

Castle Lite 440ml, Hunter’s Dry and Gold 440ml and Heineken are my top sellers. My top-selling spirits are Jamesons and the Johnnie Walkers. Gordon’s and Smirnoff are my top-selling white spirits. I sell my most stock during stokvel month-end meetings.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?

Make sure you are passionate about whatever you want to do, get first-hand experience, and make sure you have start-up funding.