5 minutes with Siphelo Jalivane

Siphelo Jalivane
Siphelo Jalivane

Siphelo Jalivane (33) owns the Milk Restaurant and Bar, Khayelitsha’s first fine-dining eatery. He shares why it was important for him to realise his dream, and how he did it. By Kwanele Mathebula Pictures Supplied

Playing soccer from a young age led me to the world of business. I was born in Langa, but grew up in Khayelitsha, both in Cape Town. I started playing soccer when I was seven years old. At 14, I was recruited by the Mother City Football Club where I started playing professionally. I played for the team for eight years until it was liquidated in 2008. This left me in a panic because I was suddenly unemployed and unable to provide for my family. I then found a job as a personal and administration assistant at Solethu Building and Construction. During this time, Vasco da Gama football club recruited me. For two years, I worked at Solethu during the day while playing soccer after hours and on weekends.

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Working for various companies helped me hone my business acumen. In 2009, local businessman Bulelani Skaap offered me a job at his popular establishment, Lifestyle Lounge. With so much on my plate, I decided to quit soccer and focus on the job. I spent that year working at the lounge and Solethu. In 2010, Solethu was liquidated, affording me the opportunity to focus on the lounge. By 2012 I was managing Bulelani’s various business interests such as the lounge, a soccer team, chicken business and properties. After nine years, I was ready to venture out on my own. So, I quit my job to start my own business; selling chicken dusts on a side walk in Khayelitsha. This prompted the idea to create a waiting area where my customers could wait while I make their food. Out of this came my tenting business, Spesholi’s Stretch Tents. The chicken business didn’t last long because I didn’t have the regulatory operational requirements to operate it on the side of a road. Coincidentally, my tenting business was thriving. I managed to raise capital to open The Milk Restaurant and Bar.

The restaurant officially opened in December 2018. My vision was a three-storey eatery overlooking the developing township. Luckily, I found a house for sale in the hub of lifestyle and entertainment in Cape Town. In 2017, it was demolished and the restaurant’s construction began. This took over a year because I funded the entire project by myself. I struggled to find an investor, so I sold my house, cars, furniture and clothes to bring my dream to fruition. On 18 December, construction was finally completed; we opened for business the following day. The staff mostly consists of people from Khayelitsha and surrounding areas with varying degrees of fine-dining experience.

I chose Khayelitsha because I wanted to drive the economy in my community. Additionally, I wanted to create a safe space for the residents and visitors to enjoy a fine-dining experience in a township. This will hopefully help change the negative stereotypes people still have about it. I love seeing my guests creating wonderful memories and enjoying our food and entertainment.

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