AFROS CHICKEN SHOP
Afro’s Chicken Shop is a homegrown food brand that has, until recently, been KZN’s best kept secret. The brand was founded by restaurateur, Emil Venter, whose staff made an unbelievable chicken burger that he thought would be great for the Durban market.
“At the time the trend was to simple food that was fresh, tasty, healthy and affordable. The menu is uncluttered – take a chicken fillet and offer a burger or strips. The vision was to be able to produce meals simply and quickly, and to grow the brand into a lot more shops,” says managing director, Mike Harris.
The first Afro’s Chicken Shop was in the distinctive yellow container on Durban’s Addington Beach. Although the brand has since established shops in Gauteng and the Western Cape, our focus is still firmly on KZN as our birthplace and our largest source of revenue.
“We believe that we are truly a KZN business; local is what sums up Afro’s for me,” says Dee Gravett, Head of Marketing. “This is a value that drives almost all key aspects of our business.”
Afro’s Chicken Shop employs youthful individuals head office level to maintain a culture of innovation to attempt to have top-level management that is in touch
with its target market.
“While Mike Harris is the captain of the team, Afro’s Chicken Shop is run by a small group of young leaders who all share the same passion and views,” says, Scott Meston, Head of Operations. “We have a great team a lot of hard work goes into running the business.”
“We‘ve created a dynamic team who enjoy what they and have vision beyond serving a meal,” says Dee. we work on a collaborative basis, we do not subscribe the traditional corporate power hierarchy, as a result, are adaptive, innovative and transparent. All our decision making is made and executed by the same team.
“The team is young and enthusiastic and does a great job getting things done,” says Mike Harris, CEO. “I get great kick about interacting with this team, they keep young and on my toes. We do have fun, it is not always hard work.”
“We look to employ young, hardworking, usually unskilled staff for our shops. We like to do our own training and teach them our methods,” explains Scott. “They are the brand and they are in the stores; they are the people our clients talk to, and who cook your food.”
“We have been lucky to find people who love the brand as much as we do and they to put that out to the customer and they want to give the best service,” dded Dee. In order to retain skills, we offer meaningful work to all members of the team and design performance incentives to boost motivation as well as promote from within.
“We have many people who have grown from being a griller or a salad lady and are now running their own shops, which is a nice story,” says Dee. “There is a career path, there is always something new and different for our employees.”
Afro’s is a customer driven business that relies on appealing to and satisfying the many customers who each add a small contribution to our turnover. One of our key values is customer value. This means that customers are charged a fair price for our products.
Being a home-grown Durban brand means that we are in the community and that our customers are close to us. As a young brand, our customers can relate to us and we strive to be agile in any of our customer interactions. “We take the view that every customer is critical, and we have listened to what they have got to say,” says Scott.
Customers’ perception of our brand is vital, and we are pleased to have been the top rated restaurant on Trip Advisor for Durban (currently we are listed as the top restaurant in the “Quick-bites” category. In addition, we are a a top-500 restaurant in the Eat-Out guide.
“Sustainable environmental practices are a key Afro’s value and we see it as a journey. We won’t be able to fix all the problems immediately, but we take steps every day to reduce our impact on the environment,” says Mike.
As a brand, we were among the first to take a decision to remove plastic straws entirely from our shops. Our next major step was to remove still and sparkling water packaged in plastic and replace it with a product packaged in glass. We replaced takeaway forks in 2018 with a more environmentally friendly corn- starch derivative that allows the forks to degrade naturally. The most recent step our journey has been to offer juice bottled in tins. takeaway packaging is 100% biodegradable to reduce our impact on the environment.
Our medium-term plans going forward are to open more sites in the eThekwini region and three more sites the broader KZN region. In Gauteng, we aim to complete two sites this year and plan for another three sites 2020. In the Western Cape, we plan for another two in 2020. Although our growth rate appears small in the context other food chains, we have taken the approach of owning all our shops and not franchising. “This is so that we exert greater control in the direction of the brand as well the in-shop quality provided to customers,” explains Scott.
“Our customers have a love for the brand, which enabled us to be successful, spread our wings and grow from the yellow container,” concluded Dee.