A look at Tashas’ unique franchising model


The tashas story is one of the country’s most well-known restaurant franchising success stories.

The premium-end boutique cafe brand which was launched in 2005 today consists of a chain of 12 restaurants across the country including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban with a 13th restaurant set to open in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. The first international location opened in Dubai in 2014 with plans to build three more.

Last week its founder Natasha Sideris gave a presentation at this year’s FNB Franchise Summit on the subject of ‘Planning for the Future’ in which she talked about why tashas’ rather unconventional franchising model works.

An unlikely candidate

From the start, the tashas brand was considered by all to be an unlikely candidate for franchising. The concept, according to Sideris filled, what was then, a gap between the coffee shop market and the fine dining restaurant market. The restaurant soon became well-regarded for its bespoke feel and the creativity and innovation in food and what Sideris refers to as “personalised experiential dining.”

Consumers loved how tashas delivered on its goal of “beautiful food, stunning environment and engagingly delivered.”

In 2008, Famous Brands acquired a 51% controlling stake in the brand retaining the key management team led by Sideris and her brother, Savva. Sideris retains a 49% shareholding in the business.

Through the franchising process, Sideris not only ensured that tashas did not lose its core vision but broke the franchising model mould too.

#1 No carbon copies

Most franchise models are built on two things, predictability and uniformity says, Sideris. When it was time to franchise the tashas model, Sideris says, she knew that she did not want to roll out a “cookie cutter model”, instead she wanted each of the restaurants to maintain their “upmarket, bespoke and boutique restaurant” feel.

No two tashas restaurants are exactly alike with a 70/30 split between core elements which are the same in all restaurants and signature elements which are particular to the restaurant and often inspired by its location, she says.

The Brooklyn branch, for example, which caters for a predominantly Afrikaans clientele, the menu reflects this and features traditional dishes with a modern take including pumpkin fritters, sticky apricot ribs and gourmet boerewors rolls.

The Rosebank branch is inspired by New York and serves dishes inspired by the city including bagels, burgers and cheese fries.

“It’s a complicated route, but a simple formula,” says Sideris.

#2 Quality over quantity

The model is not about quick aggressive roll-out says, Sideris. “It’s purposefully planned for slow and steady growth.” This is contradictory to how most franchise models work, says Sideris.

She admits that there were initially fears that there would be a tashas at every street corner.

Franchisees are owner-operators and to maintain the standard of the tashas brand, each franchisee receives a lot of support and training. Sideris says they hold the franchisees hand for much longer than most franchise brands – with up to six weeks of training.

In taking the model to Dubai, local tashas staff were deployed for training and to ensure that the brands fundamentals were right.

But this, she believes, has been key to their success.

Growth is not just about getting bigger “it’s about understanding, as you do, you will retain the integrity and authenticity of your why and your brand,” says Sideris.

Sideris advice for building a successful franchise model

  1. Know your WHY
  2. Choose the right franchisee, staff and landlord to support your WHY
  3. Hire for the hospitality quotient
  4. Train your people
  5. Love your customers
  6. Attention to detail, without attention to detail, there is not bigger picture.

Reference: SME South Africa www.smesouthafrica.co.za

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