At the height of its popularity between 2006 to 2010, Steak Out bar in Wandegeya was the place to be for many revellers
The gestures of continuously shaking his head as he puffs on a cigarette; a habit he has rebounded on several occasions, point to a reality of recounting memories in nostalgia.
The prelude to the song ‘The best things in life are free’ by Janet Jackson and Luther Vandros, has a pretty girl asking a street vendor how much a book went for. Smitten, the retailer made an exception to give it to her for free.
“Nothing in America is free,” she responded. “Love is,” he shot back, with a cunning smile. For as long as his business boomed, Peter Wacha, was a happy man, and his family too. Love kept him going; for his family and to succeed at running business. At Steak Out, it was easy to spot Wacha, who friends called Dings. Towering and heavy, he had a free spirit that jelled well with business as he freely mixed and mingled with patrons that frequented the Lumumba-based hangout that had a bar, restaurant and outside catering services.
Revellers flocked the nook on popular theme nights, the most popular theme being UTAKE; Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, which fell on Saturday and music from the three East African countries was played drawing in droves of revellers. It was conducive for people to dance, drink and hang out till the wee hours of the night.
The waiters and waitress kept busy serving an array of drinks, mostly frothy, from the different bars. For the culinary fans, it was not only in name, steaks and roasts were worth trying because they were tasty and worth enjoying more than once.
Nameless, Nonini, Redsan, Professor Jay and the East African Bashment crew were worth their headlining acts for many shows and concerts at Steak Out that many hold memories of, some beyond ululating to energetic performances. There are couples that have this place to thank as their meeting point.
However, in 2011, Steak Out closed shop. Wacha’s decision to open a branch in Entebbe despite being advised against it by close friends such as Eddie Okila blew down the place. The new venture practically milked the mother branch to its knees.
It was the last stroke that broke his financial muscle, there on causing the economic haemorrhage that saw his whole dream melt away.
“I talked to Peter, several times but he seemed not to listen to advice,” Okila, who met Wacha through a mutual friend, Mich Egwang, in 2000, says.
Wacha admits that things ran out of hand and all his expectations of running the Entebbe branch just as well as he had the Lumumba-based hangout, fell on barren grounds. “The losses at Entebbe were now covered by the mother branch, which weakened it,” he recollects.
Okila adds that Wacha’s judgement was clouded by simple pleasures that transcended into spending sprees that further dipped the business. That was coupled with domestic issues that not only threatened his marriage but his course of action.
“It was a regrettable but strong lesson. Looking back, I cannot comprehend what happened,” Wacha recounts, affording himself to a sip off a beer bottle as he chews on some roasted meat. If he had to do it all over again, Wacha would have re-thought the decision of opening the Entebbe branch.
Wacha is taking it slow, in private, somewhere in Kamwokya where he operates an Arb facility that earns a fraction of what Steak Out earned him, back in the day. Although he has attempted to return to catering business, the returns have not been good enough.
In stature, Wacha, is not the fleshy man he used to be, having shed quite a chunk of the weight. He, however, says the weight loss is out of effort as he walks long distances, which draws curiosity from friends, or revellers who know him to stop cars to inquire if all is fine with him.
“It is funny how people conceive exercise. When they see me walking, they imagine that something is wrong,” Wacha says, with a smile that easily transcends into a cheeky laughter that lights up his semi-chubby face.
At the time Wacha decided to start working out in 2011, he was obese, weighing 135 kilogrammes with swollen feet and uneven breathing. His target was to shed off 25 kilogrammes.
Without a job, he decided to start searching for ways to shed the layers of flesh. He has tried diet plans, kicked red meat off his daily nutrition plan, and done yoga. Today, he has learnt to spend time with himself and advises that everyone finds such time.
What they say
For me Steak Out was the place to be between 2006 and 2009. Lumumba Avenue and Wandegeya dictated Kampala nightlife, and Steak Out was the centre of it. Campus nights on Tuesdays and Rock nights every Thursdays were a wave and must attend. I remember most top artistes like Bebe Cool, Bobi Wine would start their Tuesdays and Thursdays at Steak Out before hitting Club Silk and Angenoir in Industrial Area.
Steak Out was my favourite hangout in Kampala. It had awesome lunch buffets, BBQ at night, two pool tables and an awesome series of theme nights that included Super Tuesdays and Rock Night which, I think, was Thursday. #TheGoodOldDays.