PICTURE CREDIT: TASHAS/TESSA GRAHAM
Natasha Sideris, founder of Tashas.
You would have had to have been living under a rock to have missed the meteoric rise of Tashas and Vuyo’s restaurants.
The two restaurant brands have managed to tap into very different but significant appetites in the local food industry and have become massive crowd pleasers and enjoy amazing popularity.
Natasha Sideris, equipped with 20-years experience in the food industry opened the first Tashas, a premium-end boutique lifestyle café, 10 years ago, at Sandton’s Atholl Square. In 2008 Sideris sold 51% of Tashas to Famous Brands and the brand was franchised.
Today the brand consists of 13 restaurant chains across the country including the launch of the brand’s maiden international restaurant in Dubai’s Jumeirah district. Sideris has also ventured into the cookbook playground with a Tashas recipe book.
‘Beeg beeg dreamer’
A relative newbie in the industry, Vuyo’s restaurant first opened its doors in Braamfontein in December 2012, after the man behind Vuyo’s, Miles Kubheka’s was inspired by beer brand, Hansa’s ‘beeg beeg dreamer’ ad campaign.
Kubheka opened his flagship restaurant in December 2012, offering traditional South African braai food, such as pap and meats, gourmet boerewors rolls, bunny chow and vetkoek.
He has also set up a growing mobile vending cart fleet that operates in front of selected Spar stores and various events around town, and later added a food truck.
Talking the business of food
SME South Africa speaks to the ‘cool kids on the food block, Sideris and Kubheka. They give us their thoughts on the three big areas that every entrepreneur needs to look at to get the edge in the competitive food industry.
Biggest challenges and lessons
“Just start” is Miles Kubheka’s biggest lesson and advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to get into the restaurant business. Getting out there and starting, no matter how small, says Kubheka was the best lesson he learnt about entrepreneurship.
Sideris says her biggest lesson was to never underestimate how important the people around you are. “I’ve just been away for a months work leave, and when you come back you are grateful for the people who work for you.”
She says that the financial struggle is by far the biggest barrier to entry for young entrepreneurs who have good concepts and the potential to succeed.
Watch: Sideris and Kubheka share their biggest challenges and the one big lesson they wish they had known from the outset.
Innovating within the African market
“We need to think global but act local, because those are where the opportunities lie,” says Kubheka.
In order to start innovating, he says entrepreneurs in the food industry need to ‘re-jig’ their thinking, to look at fresh opportunities and start treating the African market as an audience that can be served in a new and exciting way.
“We’ve never bothered to find out from ourselves as to what makes us tick, what do we want and then providing [that] for ourselves.”
Watch: Here’s what the man behind Vuyo’s restaurant says the local food industry should do to take advantage of the massive Africa market.
Keeping ahead of the trends
Health, Sideris says, is not the next big thing but a trend that is here to stay, and those in the food industry will be affected as people increasingly choose healthier food options.
“I think people underestimate how important health is, and I think there’s going to be a massive move even in South Africa.
A member of Mother Truckers, an association of food trucks based in Johannesburg, Kubheka says the food trucks trend is about to once again change the game, particularly with the challenging environment restaurants operate in.
“The food truck was a big trend for a while post-2008 when the world was in a recession, I think it’s going to come back again particularly in South Africa because times are hard.”
Watch: Which trends Sideris and Kubheka think players in the food industry should pay attention to.