Natasha Sideris opened her first restaurant in 2005 in the Johannesburg suburb of Atholl. Named tashas, it quickly became known as a boutique café with exceptional food and service to match.
Today, The tashas Group is a franchise operation comprising of 22 upmarket restaurants and a growing global footprint, including 10 stores in Johannesburg; two each in Pretoria and Durban; three in Cape Town; four in Dubai; and one in Abu Dhabi.
With growth being methodical and carefully managed over the last 15 years, The Group now employs approximately 1 500 staff, directly and indirectly.
Next level banking
The well-respected restaurateur’s relationship with Grobank also began in 2005, notably spearheaded by Christa Swart. Says Sideris: “Christa has been incredible throughout our journey with the stores that I own, as was Spiros Georgopoulos, who I believe really took the bank to the next level.”
She notes Grobank’s personal service as a differentiator: “The people Grobank hires and the service that you get from those people makes it more than just a bank. They really endeavour to forge relationships with their clients and understand personal needs.”
Here, Sideris highlights the assistance she was offered by Grobank during the Covid-19 lockdown. “It has been a terrible time, with complete shutdown of the entire network. Obviously this meant no cash flow, and some costs still driving the business into debt,” she says.
“We have now opened all our locations and I am cautiously optimistic about a slow build-up of the business. Our landlords, for the most part, have come to our assistance and suppliers have offered payment plans.”
While Grobank offered a four-month capital and interest payment moratorium to clients who approached the bank for assistance and extended an invitation to all clients experiencing financial distress to contact its relationship managers and various teams, Sideris says her three restaurants that bank with Grobank decided not to take any loans and try instead to slowly build the business up with limited cash.
“However,” she adds, “Christa has been in constant contact with us, asking if we need assistance. Having a bank that is relationship-based is a key factor when making a choice for your business.”
Personal banking creates a partnership
Sideris continues: “Everyone’s challenges are unique, so a bank that can assist with these in a personal, one-on-one basis is critical. I feel like Grobank is more than just a bank – they are a type of partner.”
Between the landlords’ co-operation and the bank’s backing when required, there is promise on the horizon. “If we all assist each other, we all have a chance of survival,” she says.
“Our aspiration now is to continue to grow the brands internationally as well as publish further cookbooks. The first cookbook, tashas Café Classics, was a best seller. Our second book, tashas Inspired, will launch in October 2020.”
Says Grobank CEO Bennie van Rooy: “It is vital for us as a financial institution to have our finger on the pulse of each client, and work with them towards their aspirations. Our business relationship managers are motivated by the relationships they grow with clients, and actively seek solutions.
“We know Natasha strives for success in everything she does, and Grobank is happy to be a small part of that.”