LISTEN | The golden touch with new ventures
Natasha Hogg had an amazing knack of starting highly successful restaurants, establishing them as winning enterprises and then selling and moving on to the next venture.
But now it looks like she and her business partner and husband, James, have dropped anchor at Lavender Blue in East London -- where they are still developing new enterprises, just not moving on.
She started her restaurant career in the early 2000s at the Primi group in Cape Town. She assisted in opening restaurants and subsequently, in 2005, bought a franchise in Johannesburg, which she sold five years later.
Her next venture was in Thailand, but after a year or so the family returned to East London to have their son.
In 2013 the couple opened their first Sanook restaurant in Berea, and two years later a second one at the Crossing. Both were a roaring success.
Sanook is a Thai word meaning ‘having a good time’.
Then, in 2016 came the third restaurant, Cantina & Craft.
All were sold and the now-expanded Hogg family took a sabbatical, which involved assisting in another Sanook launch, this time in Somerset West and as consultants.
"Having assisted in another Sanook launch we returned to Thailand after selling the three restaurants and then came back to SA and bought Lavender Blue.
“East London is the perfect place to raise a family and that was probably the main incentive to come home.”
She soon set about adding to Lavender’s offering.
“It’s a large property and is perfect for expansion. We have added to the original café, which was famous for its weekend breakfasts and lunches.
"There was already a plant nursery. We now have an art studio, an ice cream shop, a BnB guesthouse, interior design and décor shop, beading and leathermaking workshops, a craft shop that sources products from local crafters, and a clothing shop.
“We are considering placing a couple of containers on the property, which is large, and can easily take them.
"We would then move the bakery out of the deli section, which would give us more room. Another idea for the summer is starting open air cinemas, which would be weather permitting."
The Hoggs have employed hundreds of people in their many restaurant ventures, and freely acknowledge that any success over the years “is all about the great people that have worked alongside us”.
She says anyone in the trade who expects success should have a fetish for long hours and really hard work.
“You can’t fake the numbers” is one of Hogg’s mottoes.
She was referring to Trip Advisor’s customer ratings, in which 95 out of every 100 diners gave her restaurants between 'very good' and 'excellent'.
“A while ago, while I was showering, it crossed my mind that I might like to start another restaurant, but I quickly got the thought out of my mind.
"There are still many more opportunities at Lavender, plus spending time with a young family cannot be retrieved.”
Hogg’s success as an entrepreneur is obvious. But what has led to it?
“I work hard, really hard. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I am comfortable with taking risks.
"Not everything I have done has been successful. But I accept well intentioned failure and move on."
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