Juggling music and cooking pots

Baitshepi Sekgweng
FINDING A NEW TUNE: Katlego Ramphaleng

Mmantlo Goodies: Ramphaleng’s tasty new hit

Best known for serving up musical masterpieces in studio, Katlego Ramphaleng is also a hit in the kitchen.

The talented 29-year-old singer owns Mmantlo Goodies, a fast-food restaurant in Gaborone’s Maru-a-pula location, where hungry locals are turning up in large numbers for their burger and chips.

For Ramphaleng, this is a journey that began in 2020, when Coronavirus meant she could no longer rely on her music to get by. She had to find new ways to put food on the table – an expression the artist took quite literally!

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“I have always loved cooking but when Covid-19 came I started this business because from the music side of things there were no bookings yet one way or the other I had bills to pay. So I started making burgers, with my first investment into this business being P300 and made P100 as my first profit,” reveals the Mochudi songstress, who burst into the public eye back in 2015, for her cameo role in big brother, Drama Boi’s (MHSRIP) ‘Sala le Nna’ hit single.

Although the venture is entering its 5th year, it was not until late last year that Mmantlo Goodies truly took off.

“These other years it was rough, really tough. During Covid-19, I had to pay my personal bills with the profit I made, so I wasn’t focused on buying the right equipment to improve the business. Getting out of Covid-19, I had to push it again; last year I closed the business for three months to restructure. Upon re-opening in late 2023, I started to do the right things for the business to be better,” says the ever-smiling singer, who currently employs one assistant.

Ramphaleng’s restructuring has reaped rich rewards, with her joint fast becoming the go-to-place for good food at decent prices in Maru-a-pula, proving popular with both individual and corporate clients.

Operating from Monday to Saturday, Mmantlo Goodies specialize in double beef patty cheese burgers at P50 and cheesy chicken loaded fries, which go for 80 bucks.

Business may be booming but it’s not without its challenges, as the ‘Maghama’ hit-maker readily explains.

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“Security is a challenge, as you see I’m operating in a township. Although I want people to feel at home, this affects my trading times; I can’t close late because I care about my customers’ safety. The other problem is storage which is not enough to hold bulk stock. Food prices are high but the biggest thing challenging me now is potatoes due to their scarcity. On a day I can get through two bags and they are expensive. Further, the demand and price is high but the quality is low!”

Describing her target market as ‘everyone who is willing to pay’, Ramphaleng says she wanted to bring something fancy to the township and eliminate stereotypes associating such locations with cheap food.

While she eventually plans to expand her offerings, the singer-cum-cook is confident her current menu still has much to offer.

Riding on a wave of 198, 000 followers on her personal Facebook page and a further 23, 000, on the business page, Ramphaleng is quick to thank her fellow musicians for supporting her side hustle.

“Food brings everybody together; it’s rare to see people shunning food. My fellow artists are very supportive, a whole lot of them come here. I have had the likes of Hey Nyena, Kast, Mosako, Maatla Ephraim Basha and every time they eat here and take photos, it’s a gain for me because they get to spread the message,” says the grateful muso, who is booked to perform at the Seanokeng Camp Festival on 30 March.

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With Mmantlo Goodies now eating up much of her time, should Ramphaleng’s fans be concerned their star might be lost to music.

She admits it is a possibility.

“I think they should be worried because in music it’s really hard. I have been doing music for my whole life but there is nothing much to show for it apart from my following. So when things are not working, you introspect and see if you can try another way. In music there is no money there but negativity, favoritism and sabotage; with food there is nothing like that. I have experienced growth in food business, with music I will always drop songs here and there such that people don’t forget me,” she concludes, before rushing off to take another order.

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