And for the two entrepreneurs behind the brand-new Mediterranean seafood restaurant, Marina Vista is the culmination of a life-long dream, and the chance to continue a long family legacy.
Husband-and-wife team Zeferino and Thelma Franciso’s feet have barely touched ground since Marina Vista opened next to the Two Oceans Aquarium at the beginning of December, just as hundreds of families descended on the tourist hot-spot for the start of the school holidays.
Opening the restaurant in the busiest time of the year has been a baptism of fire, says Thelma, but they managed to pull off a smooth launch with an ever-growing clientèle and – almost miraculously for these days of instant customer reviews – only positive comments online.
Their successful launch is the result of careful preparation and planning in the months running up to the opening, as well as years of experience in the restaurant trade.
Thelma’s extended family were descendents from the Greek island of Lesbos, and she grew up in the Mediterranean style restaurants they had started in Cape Town. She started waiting tables in her teens, and after a few years of running her own reflexology and aromatherapy business, spent years managing steak houses for her uncle Theo Vogiatzis, owner of the well-known Theo’s Grill in Mouille Point.
At the beginning of last year, as soon as they heard about the opportunity in the Waterfront, the couple started working on a proposal for their dream restaurant. Their plan was to open up the existing space to its stunning surroundings and raise the quality of the restaurant, not least through a beautiful nautically themed design. It was also a dream of Thelma’s to be able to continue her family’s legacy through the Mediterranean menu.
To help finance their new business, the couple made contact with Business Partners Limited, who extended the funds on the basis of the strength of the entrepreneurs and the viability of the business, and not only on the amount of collateral available.
The first few months have been a wildly exciting rush, but there is still a lot of work to do to get Marina Vista settled and to ensure consistent quality over the long term, says Thelma, for whom being back in the restaurant business is like a home-coming. “I just love everything about it – the experience of every day, the people, the atmosphere, it’s always exciting.”
The two entrepreneurs are now ready to try to make the success of their launch consistent over the next fifteen to twenty years. The main challenge, says Thelma, is to build their staff into a team that shares the same work ethic and passion for service and quality as the owners.
With its unique setting, the restaurant would be difficult to replicate elsewhere, so the focus of business growth will be on increasing the quality and turnover in the single site.
And for Thelma, Marina Vista will be truly successful if it allows her to continue her family’s legacy, along with the vision of growing the brand from strength to strength.