After keeping you a long while waiting, we finally have the results for 2019’s most popular hangouts in Jinja. The last time we pitted hangouts against each other was in 2015 and it was a profitability test. This ladies and gentlemen is a popularity test!
Just like elsewhere, hangout business is a numbers’ game. Every hangout owner or manager wants to have as many patrons as they can accommodate and sustain. For this, a couple of ideas are invested in to keep these patrons. You have probably heard of theme nights like Bucket Night, Quiz Night, Oldies Night, et al. These are designed to attract patrons and grow consumer loyalty.
As 2019 comes to an end in exactly 6 days from now, we take a look at the hangouts that attracted the most patrons (crowd/audience). We have visited a couple of them over the year and observed the average turn-up in each, over one week.
In descending order, here are 2019’s most popular hangouts in Jinja…
10. Jinja Sailing Club
Once upon a time, Jinja Sailing Club was mentioned when someone needed to talk about Lake Victoria and rich Asians of Indian origin in one sentence. This was after Madhvani Group remodelled the place and turned it into one fine and cosy space by the lakeside.
Given its affinity to affluence, Jinja Sailing Club now hosts a lot of slay queen parties, business meetings and family reunions over a meal, and people who just don’t want to mix with ‘local people’. Honestly, that crowd sample is very small in Jinja but they exist and matter.
9. Betimo Wines & Spirits
On Friday, September 6, 2019, Betimo Wines & Spirits set up shop in Jinja. Unlike the four sister outlets in Kampala and Entebbe, the outlet in Jinja is much more spacious and has space for a store, bar, and accommodation in one space.
Given the hangout’s laid back ambience, the low pricing on premium wines & spirits, and the high level of service, Betimo Wines & Spirits has been able to attract the type of crowd that would love to meet up, chat, sip on their wines and spirits, and listen to music at low volumes.
Unlike for Jinja Sailing Club, this patron segment is growing in Jinja and feeds Betimo Wines & Spirits.
8. Spot6 Pub & Grill
When the current owner acquired Spot6 Pub & Grill in 2015, his intention was to maintain the crowd the hangout had and attract a new crowd. The new crowd in mind was soccer lovers. The team invested in multiple screens and different service providers’ gadgets to be able to screen different games and sports activities. This was on top of improving the bar and restaurant.
Along the way, they have managed to maintain a blend of the old and new clientele and attracted sports lovers. Weekends with sports action are big at Spot6 Pub & Grill.
7. Galaxy Auto Spa
Having morphed into a combined auto spa, bar, and restaurant early this year, Galaxy Auto Spa became something relevantly new in Jinja. The hangout was an answer to so many car-owners’ prayers; a place where they could have their car cleaned as they ate something, sipped on some beer, or caught up with a soccer game on television.
Do not get it twisted that the hangout only attracts car owners, it is a nice place to patronize and listen to fake and legit stories about car models and automobile news. The hangout also attracts a bevvy of hot and outgoing girls… If you know you know.
6. The Office Bar, Restaurant & Guesthouse
The Office Bar, Restaurant & Guesthouse has been around since 2013 and its target patrons since inception have been Jinja’s urban audience. However, a couple of hangouts have since come up and tapped into this very patron segment leaving very few numbers for the hangout.
This year, the owners did some work and created a Cocktail Bar, made some modifications to the VIP Lounge, and started hosting the monthly Jam Session. These changes attracted a yet-to-be-defined patron segment that has demonstrated loyalty to the hangout and generated some talk to attract people around. It is the only bar we know of with a Quiz Night!
5. All Friends Place
For the time Jonathan and Florence Makau have owned All Friends Place, they have maintained the patronage of the hangout. On any given day, you’re likely to bump into white expatriates, politicians with a certain class, artistes and celebrities on a weekend out in Jinja, young corporates, romantics on a lunch or dinner date… name it. These have turned out to be more loyal to the hangout than the owners!
All Friends Place offers that perfect hangout experience. The wine & dine offering is good, the service is top-notch, and the ambience is relaxing. These are some of the attributes that explain the hangout’s popularity with its patrons.
4. Pit Stop Sports Lounge
After taking over from the collapsed Laftaz Comedy Lounge, Pit Stop Sports Lounge still benefits from the structural aces of its predecessors. The hangout space is largely open-air and situated at the Jinja Rugby Grounds a.k.a. Dam Waters. This offers them more space to work with though usage has been limited to the bar area, a wooden and grass-thatched structure.
We have still failed to establish why Pit Stop’s patrons stick around. It could be that they are remnants of the former bar, or because of the amenities like a spacious parking and free Wi-Fi. It could be because of the service, which honestly is one of the best in town. We’re not yet sure why but Pit Stop attracts a sizeable crowd during the course of the week.
3. The Bourbon
It was just last year, 2018, that Sundays in Jinja became an affair that had to be indulged in and summarized at The Bourbon. Scores of people descended on the riverside hangout on Sunday and wound up the week in just one day. Eats, drinks, music, and friends make for the fun that to date, no one can explain; the same things are everywhere but the fun here slaps you differently.
This year, the party has been taken a notch higher and turned into the only daytime party in Jinja on Sunday. If you’re looking for your friends on a Sunday and can’t find them, head over to The Bourbon. A weekend in Jinja is useless if you have not set foot at this hangout on Sunday so it is likely that the people you are looking for are over there.
2. Café 49
On Tuesday December 31, 2019, Café 49 will make one year in business. So much can be tagged to this out-of-Jinja hangout but so much more for being the most talked-about hangout in Jinja.
In the first month, Café 49 threatened to run some hangouts out of business as almost every partier in Jinja relocated to it. A few bumps along the way soon drove a couple of people back to their hangouts but still, Café 49 retained some and still gets patronized like crazy.
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are the days when the hangout has a sizeable crowd with Saturday being the biggest night. For people who look down on Jinja, a night at Café 49 will change your perception altogether.
1. Queen’s Palace
You must give it up to Queen’s Palace for not only being the most popular hangout in Jinja this year but the previous years too. The hangout has mastered the art of relevance from Monday to Sunday; a Monday or Tuesday at Queen’s Palace will be action-packed and entertaining like a Friday night in some other hangout around town.
Incidentally, after patronizing all the hangouts in town, partiers always bring the final stretch of the night to Queen’s Palace. It has become that hangout where you must get your last bits of fun before you return home.
So many reasons can be advanced for this dominance but from observation, Queen’s Palace being situated right in the middle of town, their timely and ‘enticing’ service, their constant creativity and innovation with their theme nights, and the pricing on eats and drinks are the things that have granted this walk-in hangout a crowd every single day of the week.