'It's heartbreaking': KZN business owner on lockdown strain

14 May 2020 - 06:56
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Sakhile Xulu, the owner of Casablanca Lifestyle in Molweni, Durban, is feeling the impact of the lockdown.
Image: Facebook/Casablanca Lifestyle Sakhile Xulu, the owner of Casablanca Lifestyle in Molweni, Durban, is feeling the impact of the lockdown.

Business has taken a dip for the owner of what was one of the busiest hangouts and food catering joints in Durban, Casablanca Lifestyle in Molweni.

Sakhile Xulu, affectionately known as Staxx, has had to lay off staff and close down half his business as lockdown regulations remain in place. Now he's trying to put bread on the table by delivering hot cooked food on request. 

“The lockdown has been terrible,” he told TimesLIVE.

“My employees are on a 'no work, no pay' arrangement. We couldn't keep our staff as we are not fully operating. Even now, we don't have staff because we are still trying to see how thing will go and how soon business will pick up - if it even picks up.”

One part of Xulu's business remains closed due to the ban on alcohol sales under level 4 of the lockdown.

For the next few weeks, he says he will be cooking and delivering the food himself. As soon as things start picking up and he gets more orders, he will call his staff back.

“I have not made any orders yet. It might take a bit of some time before things take off because we just got back after closing for almost two months,” he said.

Xulu says his work is not just a business but a passion and seeing it struggle financially is taking its toll.

“I've been doing this since 2010 and it's really heartbreaking. We've had to cancel all our events that we normally host during this time. For us not to be able to host our annual events, and also not being open to rent out our venue for other people's events, has been very heartbreaking.” 

The entrepreneur says he's fortunate to not be paying rent for his business as he owns the space, which means his expenses are not too hectic.

“During these economic hard times, we've been able to adjust and forge a way forward. We've also contacted our suppliers whom we have contracts with and we've come up with payment plans,” he said.

Xulu says the way things are going, he fears that businesses like his might take up to a year to recover, although he hopes to start seeing an improvement sooner, by June or July.

“We are still on level 4 and operating under restrictions and limited times. Yes, we've had to comply with government and the rules, but it will take us a long time before things can go back to how they were before.”