When Natasha Sideris founded tashas in 2004 she had no intention of franchising the business. At the time she was a franchisee for another day-time restaurant brand with a store in Bedfordview, and all she wanted to do was open a café-style restaurant that offered more than conventional coffee shop food, but didn’t cater to evening diners.
We find out in our franchise interview that her plan was to run this restaurant in addition to her franchise store. The beautiful décor and delicious menu soon made the original tashas, opened at Atholl Square, an instant hit. By 2005 Natasha’s landlord in Bedforview insisted that she exit the relationship with her current brand and convert the store to a tashas as well.
“By the time I converted my Bedfordview store to a tashas restaurant I had attracted the interest of Famous Brands,” explains Natasha. Famous Brands CEO Kevin Hedderwick was a regular customer and had been paying attention to the offering. The opening of a second restaurant piqued his interest. Famous Brands had been looking for a boutique, upmarket brand, and tashas fitted the bill. The deal was concluded in 2008, with Famous Brands taking a 51% stake in the business.
Each tashas restaurant has a standard menu, as well as a signature menu that ties in with the store’s overall theme and décor. The food is all made fresh to order. For the customer this means receiving a freshly prepared meal within 20 minutes of ordering.
For the franchisee, it means a large kitchen staff and a strong focus on management. “Freshly prepared means the salad is chopped and the chicken grilled as the meal is ordered. It means the mince packet is snipped open when a burger is
ordered,” explains Natasha. Nothing is precooked or pre-cut.
When Natasha made the decision to franchise tashas she did so with the vision that while the back-end of the business would follow Famous Brands’ systems, each store would look unique, maintaining an air of individualism. “Famous Brands’ greatest strength is its systems,” she explains. “These systems enable our franchisees to operate world-class, highly efficient businesses, but in addition, I also wanted each franchisee to stamp their own personality on the brand.”
Head Office Support
Franchisees are owner-operators, and Famous Brands’ head office is very involved in each store. Natasha maintains a personal relationship with each of her franchisees, and both she and her three head-office partners are available day and night. “Our franchisees can call us at any time,” she says. “The brand demands a lot of its franchisees, and head office is very involved in ensuring that quality is maintained at all times and no corners are cut, but we are also very supportive of our franchisees – we give them a lot of attention.”
Delivering on Promises
The tashas concept is based on highquality food and great décor. Natasha maintains that in order for this standard to be maintained, costs can’t be cut. “We have on average five managers working per shift,” she explains. “Three in front of house and two in the kitchen.”
Since everything is prepared from scratch on order, there is a strong management component required to ensure service delivery, as well as a veritable army of staff. The result of this focus on quality is full restaurants and high turnovers.