By Michael Kariati
Harare, October 10, 2013 – Do you still remember Solo’s Restaurant and Nite Club?
Once one of the most popular restaurants and nightclubs in Harare, Solo’s has long ceased to operate and the building is now home to a funeral parlour.
During the 90s, most people working in the city centre would flock to Solo’s to have a drink after work, and the place attracted people from all walks of life ranging from businessmen to the ordinary man from the street and one former patron of Solo’s Nite Club, 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 everyday. Even if I did not have money to buy myself a pint of beer, 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 Dr 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.
Solo’s is not the only once popular nite spot which has changed its line of business. Sandros which used to host such top musicians as Oliver Mtukudzi, the late Simon Chimbetu and Andy Brown has been renovated into a new building which now houses a church, something which is completely different from what Sandros used to offer.
The church, just like many others, does not encourage alcohol consumption while on the other hand, 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 artists the late Chiwoniso Maraire and Tsitsi Dangarembwa and also brought together a host of other celebrities, most of whom would love to sit on the veranda sipping their coffee or taking their drinks.
Sandrock has also changed its line of business and now houses a hair salon, two clothing shops, a hardware, and car parts dealer.
“Sandros and Sandrock were so central that it was easy to wait for somebody while drinking at one of these places. Crime was also at its lowest because of where they were situated as police always patrolled the area,” said Farai Mugoni, an active boxer during those days.
Job’s Nite Club too which also used to attract a lot of people especially on Mondays when musicians like the late Robbie Chagumuka, and Ashton ‘Sugar’ Chiweshe among others met to perform for free while practising has now been partitioned and the place now sells various goods ranging from cell phones, electronic goods, and clothing.
That is not the end of it. Time and Place which was situated along Nelson Mandela is also no longer there and after specialising in fabric has now completely closed its doors from the public.
“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 automated teller machine if I needed some,” said David Mutema.
Although that particular bank’s branch has been moved elsewhere, it has been replaced by another bank but not from the same stable.
Tacos which was also in the same street, Union Avenue now known as Kwame Nkrumah with Sandros at one time was converted into a flea market but now sells furniture and an assortment of other household goods and has been christened Homegate.
There are also other places 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, and shops of other material.
What has brought about this change in line of business is debatable with some pointing to the change in the economic climate while others have pointed to change in building ownership.
Tracing the former owners of these nightclubs was not easy as some of them have passed on while others no longer live in the city and have gone farming.
On another note, other old age night spots still remain. Sports Diner, 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. Mateos is now the much talked about Jazz 105 which hosts leading musicians such as Mtukudzi, Sulumani Chimbetu and Leonard Zhakata. That is how times have changed in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.