Do you still remember Solo’s Restaurant and NiteClub?
By Michael Kariati
During the 90s, most people working in the city centre would flock to Solo’s to have a drink after work. The place attracted people from all walks of life ranging from businessmen to the ordinary men from the street and one former patron, Munyaradzi Musavengana, reflects on the good old days.
“It was difficult for me to go straight home without passing through Solo’s. This was where I met friends every day. Even if I did not have money for a drink, I would just pass through the place just to find out what was going on,” said Musavengana.
Another former patron of the club, Stanley Muchena says even if he did not have money for transport to take him home, inside Solo’s, he would find one person willing to give him the money to board a Zupco bus or a commuter omnibus home.
Businessman Bloodshed Vhiriri who used to operate a medical equipment business in the Kopje area says he took time to rest in Solo’s after a hectic day and cherishes those good old days. “It was good to meet all those people and sometimes you could be lucky to strike a business deal,” said Vhiriri.
But all that is now history as what was once a meeting place for many has gone down under and the building is now home to a funeral parlour.
But Solo’s is not the only once popular hanging place which has changed its line of business.
Sandros, which used to host top musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi, the late Simon Chimbetu and Andy Brown, has been renovated into a new building which now houses a church, something completely different from what Sandros used to offer.
The church, just like many others, does not encourage alcohol consumption while during its days, Sandros thrived on selling large volumes of alcohol to its patrons.
Across Sandros was its neighbour Sandrock which also used to attract patrons such as the late Chiwoniso Maraire and film director Tsitsi Dangarembga. Sandrock would also bring together a host of other celebrities, most of whom loved to sit on the veranda sipping their coffee or taking their drinks.
“I remember when I was writing an article on Tsitsi Dangarembga’s new film Everyone’s Child. She asked me to meet her at Sandrock. There were so many familiar personalities there,” said a writer who used to work for a monthly magazine.
The building where Sandrock used to be now houses a hair salon, clothing shops, hardware, cellphone shop and car parts dealer.
“Sandros and Sandrock were so central that it was easy to wait for somebody while drinking. Crime was also at its lowest because of where they were situated as police always patrolled the area especially at night,” said Farai Mugoni, an active boxer during those days.
Tacos, which was also in the same street, Union Avenue, now renamed Kwame Nkrumah and close to Sandros, has been converted into a flea market and now sells furniture and an assortment of household goods. It has been christened Homegate.
Job’s Nite Club, which also used to attract a lot of people especially on Mondays when musicians like the late Robbie Chagumuka, John Chibadura, System Tazvida, and Ashton “Sugar” Chiweshe among others met to perform for free while rehearsing, has now been partitioned. The place now sells an assortment of goods ranging from cellphones, electric goods, clothing, kitchen ware, and also offers accommodation services.
But that is not the end of it. Time and Place which was situated along Nelson Mandela is also no longer there. It went from specialising in fabric into confectionery. Now, it has completely closed its doors for the public as the fabric and confectionery business proved non-profitable.
“I liked Time and Place because apart from the entertainment inside, there was a bank just next door where I would just withdraw money from the ATM if I needed some,” said David Mutema.
Although that particular bank’s branch has been moved elsewhere, it has been replaced by another bank which is not from the same stable.
There are also others like Bretts which at one time changed its name to Tropicana but has now been converted into a shopping mall. Not forgetting Bonanza which now houses clothing shops, while Synergy has closed down completely.
It is saddening to note that, while the doors are shut, people are now using the Synergy steps for resting or to sit on while taking their lunch, and litter is strewn everywhere.
What has brought about this change in line of business is debatable with some pointing to the change in the economic climate while others attribute this to changes in building ownership.
Tracing the former owners of these nite clubs was not easy as some of them have passed on while others no longer live in the city and have gone farming.
But other old age night spots have survived the wave of change.
The Tube, The Guest Lodge, Tipperary’s and Archipelago are still there and using the same names, while Copacabana is now Boomerang and Rumours is still in the same line of business but has assumed another name of Super Label. Terreskane too has survived the times of change but is now operating under the Zim Café franchaise.
But here is the latest. Fernando, which had changed its name to Casa De Galinha and famed for its Portuguese roasted chicken and cold drinks and its proximity to commuter omnibus ranks, has just closed down. The inscription at the gate reads : For sale, please contact . . .
Gone too is Jazz 105, formerly Mateos. Instead of Tendai Makoni sitting at the bar, there is now a Lotto shop. Can you believe it?
That is how much times have changed.