The owners of Jeya’s Jazz Corner Tavern in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, have developed their venue into a great spot where visitors and locals can enjoy each other’s company in an evening of jazz, dance, pool and general carousing.

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Jeya’s keeps its prices low to ensure it gets business from visitors and locals alike.

Jeya’s Jazz Corner Tavern in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, is everything a typical neighbourhood pub should be. It’s a drinking spot, a sports bar, a music hall, a pool room and a restaurant all rolled up into one exciting venue. But what gives it that special appeal, especially for visitors from out of town, is its unmistakeably African vibe.

Noxolo Sume and her husband Mawonga, who also goes by his football nickname of 'Jeya', started their business together in 2003. They took over an old township shebeen (informal bar) and gradually began their upgrades.

Working with organisations like the acclaimed Calabash Tours, the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP), Eastern Cape Tourism and South African Tourism, the Sumes learned as much about tourism and hospitality as they could – and applied this knowledge at their venue.

They benefitted from being close to the award-winning Red Location Museum and maximising the potential of big events like the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Whenever a visiting international sports team arrives in Port Elizabeth, chances are that an after-party at Jeya’s is on the cards.

During major sporting clashes all over the country, Jeya’s is transformed into a typical sports bar, with the focus of attention being the big-screen action on display.

Noxolo and Mawonga also saw the value of involving others in their enterprise, and began arranging for cultural dancers, choirs and music groups to perform for groups of visitors at Jeya’s. Nowadays it’s mostly about top-class jazz shows on weekends.

The inner beast is also well catered for, and that famous Jeya’s menu always features a lot of braai (barbecue) cuts, garnished with Noxolo’s special chakalaka sauce (a spicy local sauce made from tomato, onion and secret spices).

When Noxolo goes off to tourism conventions to market Jeya’s, she also makes a point of marketing the Eastern Cape province as a whole. When tour operators show an interest in bringing a group in to experience Jeya’s, she often sells them on a trip through the entire province. This kind of spirit of sharing has a positive rebound for Jeya’s, which is now regarded as a landmark asset for local hospitality.

Possibly the best feature of Jeya’s, overshadowing the big-screen TV action, the jazz shows, the dancers, the tasty shisanyama (barbecue) and the pool tables, is the fact that the people of New Brighton see this as their neighbourhood bar and love to visit it. And when they sit down with visitors and share a beer, a few stories and a couple of laughs, that’s when the real magic begins…

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