Harbouring a Commitment to Quality Food
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Harbour House Group (HHG) is channelling the best that Cape Town and Johannesburg has to offer in bringing a fresh, vibrant and innovative array of restaurant brands to the doorsteps of the country’s gateway cities.
Founded in 1996 when it opened its doors to its Kalk Bay Harbour House outlet, the subsequent 21 years have seen a continuous expansion of footprint, improvement of offering, and increase in customers; and the evolution’s momentum is showing no signs of slowing in the present day.
“Over the past 21 years the Group has built a respected reputation as a leading experiential dining Company in South Africa; a now must-visit country on the global foodie map,” emphasises HHG’s Head of Operations, Craig Goslin.
An acquisition of the business last year at the hands of investors has since given HHG fresh impetus in this ongoing strive for dining perfection in South Africa, as Goslin continues: “Since the Company was bought by investors in 2016, it has grown in one short year. With 20 restaurants across eight brands now sitting under its umbrella, Harbour House Group has fast established itself as a leading player in the South African restaurant industry and its footprint continues to grow at an impressive pace.”
Tiger’s Milk Kitchen & Bar, La Parada Bar de Tapas, Live Bait, Harbour House, Grand Africa Café & Beach, Lucky Fish & Chips, Easy Tiger, and Charango Peruvian Bar & Grill make up the current, exciting portfolio of brands, amounting to 20 branches across the two aforementioned hubs of Cape Town and Johannesburg. And in each case, the parent Group’s staple philosophies are instilled clearly and unwaveringly.
Goslin lists: “Across the board we make sure we provide the freshest possible ingredients and products; we constantly strive for good service; we open branches in iconic locations; we innovate and renovate and push the boundaries of new product development; we bring experience into the team and focus on selecting great employees; and we are socially responsible in our operations.
“A further nine restaurants opened in 2016, and the Group remains dedicated to bespoke brands, a professional service, and high quality food that appeals to a variety of South African diners.”
Look and feel
In terms of differentiation, it hasn’t simply been a case of saturation of branches and brands, but is reflected through the clear strategy and identity driven through each outlet; Goslin citing 20 years of experience, philosophy and heritage as the core attributes responsible for being able to inject a fresh, dynamic and out-of-the-box approach to development.
Perhaps beyond each of these facets though is the Group’s commitment to providing a perfect atmosphere and interior within each restaurant, in order to make each customer’s visit a pleasurable and memorable one.
“The look and feel of the restaurants has always been a key factor for us and the focus has always been on interior design,” Goslin says. “We employ our own architects, interior designers, project managers and draughtsmen within our design room and this helps us create specific, bespoke, authentic, brand-aligned spaces.
“Each of our brands and branches may have a local variation that celebrates its location, but the brands all work together under the brand guidelines and the Group, so they have common elements. [The iconic] Constantia Nek site is a good example, where a classic ocean-facing seafood restaurant is now situated in the Constantia wine valley. It is different but retains the heritage of Harbour House.”
The same attention to detail has recently been applied to a new newly opened heritage building in Constantia, in Cape Town’s oldest restaurant building – again signifying the kind of iconic location that HHG has become synonymous with – as well the opening of a La Parada outlet on the Camps Bay Strip.
Harbour House has also opened a Tiger’s Milk in Johannesburg, the first HHG restaurant to open outside of Cape Town; as well as buying a majority share in Grand Africa Café & Beach in Granger Bay on the V&A Waterfront; opening a Tiger’s Milk in Stellenbosch, Claremont, Century City; and also a Live Bait in Muizenberg.
“Complementing these new additions, Harbour House and Live Bait in Kalk Bay are to undergo a refurbishment this year, we’ve upgraded the upstairs deck at Harbour House at the V&A Waterfront, and there are planned upgrades for Tiger’s Milk at Long Street and Bree Street too,” Goslin adds.
A great environment
Compounding the numerous aesthetic upgrades is a similarly vigilant and ongoing monitoring of its menus, with seasonal options introduced every summer and winter to complement a more all-encompassing change in menu that occurred across the board (except for Harbour House) in 2016.
And in combining this level of proactivity with the iconic locations of Camps Bay, Constantia Nek, V&A Waterfront and Kalk Bay, the resultant offering is one conducive to adding value not just for the restaurant; but for Harbour House Group’s landlords, the location itself, the wider community, and indeed its employees.
“We are passionate about developing people and growing from within,” Goslin states. “We have a large footprint as a Group so we are able to have an impact on a local community for training and employment such as in Muizenberg, Constantia Nek.
“We hand-pick talented people and we hire based on passion and a culture-fit within the organisation. Then, the emphasis is on training; waiter training, barman training, first aid, HIV awareness, etc.”
In keeping each and every staff member up to date with the latest nuances demanded of them by the wider sector, the Group as a whole is able to remain on top of each new industry requirement or trend; a skill and attribute that Goslin believes is vital in the modern sector climate and in maintaining HHG’s positive momentum in the years to come.
In the future, the Company is opening another Tiger’s Milk in Pretoria; and another one in Kloof & Rheede Street – another trendy foodie street in Cape Town’s central business district.” “There are several other sites on the cards as well, each with their own bespoke design, as authentic brands, offering real food with fresh ingredients and healthy alternatives included,” Goslin concludes.
“We also occupy a space in the quick-service restaurant and takeaway sector, adhere to the gourmet and craft burger trend, and offer tapas for sharing occasions; all to help create a great environment for people to spend time with loved ones outside of work and the home.”