The restaurant industry is an industry unto itself. Whether its your first date, your wedding anniversary or sharing a meal with family and friends, a good restaurant offers more than tantalising meals, it offers an experience.
Yet, little thought is given to those who work behind the scenes. The men and women who pursue a career in the hospitality industry, dealing with many challenges, whilst keeping “the ship” running smoothly.
One such person is Elmar Gouws, a man whose name is synonymous with the restaurant industry in Newcastle. Holding the franchise for both Spur and Panarottis, not many know how Elmar got involved in the industry or what he does behind the scenes.
We caught up with him and he shared his story with the Newcastillian.
When did you become the franchise owner of Eagle Peak Spur?
“In 2007. I initially started as a waiter, becoming a manager from 2003 and working myself to operations manager. From there, I was offered a partnership in the franchise.”
What made you pursue getting involved with a franchise?
“Becoming involved in the restaurant industry is something I have always wanted to do. No day is ever the same. Every day is a challenge, but a challenge is good as it helps a person develop.”
When given the opportunity, Elmar said it was only logical that he took it. “I met with my partners and it made sense.”
Running Eagle Peak Spur, what made you want to take on the daunting challenge of taking on Panarottis as well?
“Panarottis is part of the Spur Brand. When the franchise contacted us and said they wanted to bring it town, my partners and I discussed it, giving it serious thought.”
Elmar and his partners took the chance and their decision proved to be a wise choice and paid off. “It offers people a variety and is something different. Panarottis is also a good, solid brand and we need to look at securing what makes people happy,” he explains.
What kind of person does it take to manage and run a franchise?
Elmar laughs and says one needs a ton of patience. “You need to understand the market and the area around you. You also need to know each person and understand their cultures. Employing the right type of person also helps.”
What kind of lifestyle comes with running a franchise?
He explains it takes long hours, entertaining people and finding immense joy in your work when others are off and not working.
“It takes a lot of time from your family and friends, but it does offer some free time which you can enjoy with family.”
Elmar also explains holiday trips are not planned according to the usual, seasonal holidays. “But there are a lot of benefits to it.”
What is the hardest part of running a franchise?
Elmar says managing people and staff can be difficult at times. “We have such diverse cultures and people in our beautiful country and you need to cater to everyone’s needs.”
But, alongside a strong team of employees, he says any issues are quickly resolved. Leaving the restaurant in a harmonious and enjoyable environment.
What does he enjoy most about running and managing a franchise?
“I love challenging myself and this means, you are constantly learning something new. Then there is not knowing how many people are going to come in on a day. Plus, constantly looking for new ideas to promote and develop your business.”
However, how does Elmar find time to juggle two franchises and a family?
“If you employ the right people and train them correctly, you will have time for your family and friends. I believe in uplifting staff and promoting/placing people in the right positions.”
By showing his team support, Elmar says a franchise owner can and will be able to enjoy time with their family.
Involved with the restaurant industry for so many years, what would you have done if you decided to not pursue a career in the industry you love so much?
“I honestly don’t know,” he laughs. Not being able to visualise himself sitting behind a desk and pursuing an 8 to 5 career, Elmar says he most likely would have pursued something in sports.
“I most likely would have gone into sports science or something like-minded,” he says.
With a vast amount of experience, what advice can you give to those who wish to open a franchise within the restaurant industry?
“You get people who are built for this industry and those who aren’t. You need to be a people person. But if you are not willing to sacrifice a lot of time and energy at and for your business, it is best to look at something else. “
However, if one loves people and is willing to go the extra mile and you are a person who loves the food industry, Elmar says it is a career that one can fully embrace.
With Elmar at the helm of both Spur and Panarottis, he is truly ensuring Newcastillians taste buds are tantalised every step of the way.