From a humble beginning to a growing empire, Shane Swiegelaar, owner of The Grillfather, talks to YOHRadio!
The Grillfather started two years ago. At first, it was merely a project that was run from out of Swiegelaar’s garage. It started as a humble home-based takeaway business in Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain, but after three months of working in his garage, the business started to flourish. The garage became too small for the crowd of customers and he decided to move to Westridge Shopping Centre. He was on a mission to make delicious food, and the mission gained traction.
“I never expected it to be this big,” said Swiegelaar about the success of his brand. People from all over have been lining up for the strictly-halaal burgers and fresh food.
Swiegelaar started his business as a man who loved to braai and turned his passion into a dynasty. “I started this business with no money, everything that we do is to make money and put it back into the system (sic),” said Swiegelaar. Four years before The Grillfather became a successful business, Swiegelaar worked for Ihealthmeals.com as a driver and partner.
Swiegelaar worked closely with a chef at ihealthmeals.com who worked with Gordon Ramsay. It is here where Swiegelaar perfected his craft. He knew that his passion was to grill and to create food that is both fresh and inexpensive.
The Grillfather received its name because he loved the iconic movie “The Godfather”. Surprisingly there were no other Grillfather’s in South Africa.
The brand has over 24 000 likes on Facebook and has worked with one of the biggest pages, Vannie Kaap. The business grew exponentially over the course of two and a half years with three successful branches. The Grillfather became the hot spot for local celebrities such as Randall Abrahams, Paxton, and Jack Parrow to name a few. There has been a recent influx of international visitors after being called a cultural hub according to Tripadvisor.
The Grillfather became known amongst capetonians for their huge burgers. Their two most popular burgers are called the Yoh Burger and the Tsek Burger. There’s been a challenge with these burgers to see who could finish these meals the fastest. Currently the fastest a tsek burger meal has been eaten is 4 minutes. The challenge has yet to be taken on.
“I wanted to see how big we can make this burger and after we made it we took it to the crowd and everyone just said ‘yoh’ and that was how the burger was named,” said Swiegelaar about the biggest burger to date. The Yoh Burger was launched when The Grillfather and YohRadio did their collaboration. It weighs 3kg and can be cut in 8. The Tsek burger was named after some in-depth thought on how to keep the burger authentically Mitchell’s Plain.
Many people have asked why he opened his business in Mitchells Plain. “Mitchells Plain has the biggest buying power,” answered Swiegelaar simply. “There are approximately 1 million people in Mitchells Plain. There are people who pay weekly, monthly, so there are constantly people in the area searching for a good place to buy food. Opening a business in Mitchell’s Plain is some sort of a gold mine.”
The next step for The Grillfather, according to Swiegelaar is to open a branch in the Northern Suburbs. The branch in Retreat will be moved to a bigger location, as it already covers the Southern Suburbs, Mitchell’s Plain central, and the Deep South. “Build the brand bigger and stronger. Hopefully, within the next five years, we will take the brand to Jo’burg,” said Swiegelaar.