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Soweto restaurant owners say sit-down meals without liquor will cost them

Level 3 lockdown regulations stipulate that alcohol could only be consumed at home and not in public.

FILE: Vilakazi Street road sign in Soweto. Picture: EWN.

SOWETO - Restaurant owners along the famous Vilakazi Street in Soweto on Monday said they would reopen this week, but not to make a profit, only to stay relevant to customers.

The street has been a shadow of itself for the past couple of months due to the lockdown, but as business started to speed up slowly, restaurant owners said the regulations on alcohol would keep them from reaching their targets.

Level 3 lockdown regulations stipulate that alcohol could only be consumed at home and not in public.

Vilakazi Street is one of the vibrant spots in Soweto with a variety of restaurants and sites for tourists such as the former home of anti-apartheid stalwarts Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

But for the past three months, those streets were dead.

Owner of the Sakhumzi Restaurant, Sakhumzi Maqubela, said they would open for sit-down meals on Wednesday, but it would cost them more to be open.

“The drawing card is liquor, Sakhumzi is more of a shebeen. Customers usually come here to socialise with other people,” Maqubela said.

Opposite Sakhumzi Restaurant is Vuyo’s Restaurant. Assistant manager Mandy Ndimande said they were likely to make a loss even when they are fully open.

“The pandemic has changed everything for us. It means the way people are going to spend money is going to be different too,” she said.

Ndimande said they would be meeting with staff on Tuesday where they would be giving the final directives for Wednesday’s reopening.

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