Why are popular hangouts closing shop in Kigali?

if they are not closing, they are changing hands. The high turnover rate in Kigali’s hospitality service sector is not something new, but recently eyebrows were raised when two premier entertainment spots that are sister entities closed their doors to patrons.

Well, at least in the time being.

K-Club Lifestyle, formerly K-Club, in Nyarutarama, and The Junction Lounge and Restaurant in Remera are regular fixtures on Kigali’s nightclub circuit. A few weeks ago, when the two establishments simultaneously closed shop without any prior warning, tangs started wagging in Kigali’s gossip mill.

It seems like only yesterday, when The Junction Lounge and Restaurant was officially launched. That was on December 31st last year. To announce their entry in a big way, management flew in Ugandan singer Irene Ntale, and invited the high and mighty in Kigali’s business, entertainment and media circles to witness the opening.

But even before hitting its one year anniversary, the facility has already changed hands. Emile Murego, who owned the facility as well as K-Club Lifestyle in Nyarutarama, recently sold off The Junction Lounge to a duo of investors, who have since shut down the facility for renovation and possible redesign.

When Sunday Times reached out to Murego in a telephone interview last week, the serial entrepreneur brushed off speculation that something sinister could be going on.

Murego seemed reluctant to discuss any further details about the lounge other than the fact that he had sold it off, requesting that the new owners be given time to reinvent the facility.

As for K-Club Lifestyle, which closed its doors at about the same time as The Junction, Murego clarified that the closure was only meant for purposes of renovation. In an interview with Sunday Times on Friday morning, he revealed that the club would reopen on Thursday November 15th.

However a week earlier, he had told this reporter that the club would reopen on Saturday October 27th (Umuganda night), which was yesterday.

So we wait with bated breath to see if the new dates for reopening will be honored. K-Club is particularly dear to many Kigali night club goers because it was among the city’s first crop of designated nightclubs.

It was only in February this year that the club re-launched, after a lengthy closure. It took on the new name of K-Club Lifestyle in the process. During its overhaul, a lot changed about the club –décor, sound, staff, so the recent news about the club’s closure brought a lot of speculation.

A stone’s throw away from The Junction Lounge is the imposing structure that houses the Landstar Hotel … well, the former Landstar Hotel.

If you had never heard about this business travelers-oriented hotel, well, blame yourself not. I had been to the facility once or twice, to meet a contact and that was about all I knew about it.

Recently on my last rendezvous at the hotel, a contact directed me to their office on the building’s second floor, and this is when it dawned on me that the once three star hotel had been parceled up into multiple rentals: From hotel to mixed use commercial structure.

Landstar Hotel seems to have exited the Kigali hospitality scene as quietly as it made its entry a couple of years ago.

Trophy’s Sports Lounge:

Trophy’s is perched on the first floor of a single story building in Gishushu, a few paces down the road from the RDB complex. The facility opened its doors to the public on April 28 2017, and quickly established itself as a premier sports bar and a haunt for cocktail lovers.

It was established by three friends; Joanna Mugisha, Bill Nyirimihigo, and Lamy Subira.

Trophy’s had several tales told about it, some only in whispers, giving it an air of mystery in the process. It was a place to go for great authentic cocktails, live sports on giant screens … it was a perfect pre-party drink up nook, or a place to simply relax with a sundown drink.

All that changed with a tweet dated September 28, from the lounge’s management. The tweet read:

“Dear Kith and Kin,

As we are about to embark on a new adventure, we would like to first take time to thank you for having been with us for the past year and more. The memories we have shared at our current location will remain with our Trophy’s team forever!

Alas, we have outgrown our little house and as of Monday October 1st, we will close our doors for a period of time as we seek to provide you with a better, and BIGGER experience. We are looking forward to this next chapter and hope you will rejoin us to continue this already amazing journey. So we say to you: Watch this space and see you soon!”

Speculation among hardcore Trophy’s patrons is that the joint is likely to bounce back in new and bigger premises.

Ubumwe Grande Hotel:

This architectural marvel of a hotel is currently faced with the threat of liquidation from a local bank, as the bank seeks to recover an outstanding loan in the excess of $18 million!

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Rwanda has since served the Rwanda Development Board, the sector regulator with a notice of intention to foreclose the hotel. 

If indeed the hotel is closed, it will be one of the highest profile closures the sector has witnessed. Opened in September 2016, the hotel boasts 134 guest rooms and 19 private apartments.

Only last year, it had been reported that Hilton, and international hotel brand, was in the process of acquiring interests in the hotel.

However the anticipated takeover did not happen after one of the hotel’s foreign shareholders accused the other shareholders of not consulting him in the takeover deal.