Whitehouse Lifestyle Tavern

Meet the people of Spotong

Meadowlands, Soweto
Owner: Mxolisi Duma

How long have you been running your business?

I’ve been running this business since 2001. I called it Whitehouse because I wanted it to have its own identity separate from me. As a former convict, I wanted to give back to the community. I started by doing small jobs like cleaning up the dump areas in the community. The dump areas were making our neighbourhood smell and making people sickly. After seeing children playing with used condoms as balloons, I knew I had to help. I started my business small and it grew over the years. I then built a wall around my immediate neighbourhood for security. I also built a Salvation Army church which helps poor and dysfunctional children and community members.

"I wanted to give back to the community".

How do you hire your staff?

There are no particular criteria I use. As long as a person needs a job, is from my community, passionate and disciplined, I am happy to hire them when I have vacancies available. I now employ nine people in total. I see it as empowering people who would otherwise be unemployable.

How do you give back to the community?

Over and above the church I built and cleaning up our neighbourhood, I help local schools with funding. As an example, I have paid for an entire school to have a school trip to the zoo. Then I also help with burial costs for the less fortunate. Giving back to the community is a continuous thing, it doesn’t stop. I am now seen as a community leader, so I have a responsibility to my community to help. I am now looking into building a park for the children so they can have a place to play close to home.

What are your top-selling brands?

My top-selling brands are the SAB beers, wine, Johnnie Walker lack, Gordon’s and Ciroc. But I must say Johnnie Walker Black outsells all other brands. I generally find my tavern attracts patrons with a little more disposable income.

What do you do to keep business booming?

I sell hot meals as well and host braais as I want to accommodate patrons who don’t necessarily want to drink as well. I also have a car wash attached to the business, which also attracts patrons who are waiting for their cars to be washed.

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

Don’t look at a liquor establishment as being all about drinking. Consuming alcohol is not for getting drunk. Liquor trading is about building a place of socialising and enjoyment.