We explore the communal feel of our restaurants’ distinctive personalities
While many are familiar with Fego’s relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and delicious menus, a lot of people don’t realise that our restaurants are steeped in South African culture and tradition. For owner and managing director who originally hails from South Africa, taking on the business in September 2010 was a natural step.
“The South African café culture that I would have grown up with resonated with me straight away,” he says. “It’s always been less about the actual food, and more about the place we’re trying to create – casual and relaxed, where our customers are looked after and treated really well. It’s about fresh ingredients, fresh food, a relaxed offering, and very friendly, down-to-earth staff.”
Part of our ethos is based on the concept of ‘Sawubona’, a traditional greeting that literally translates from Zulu as ‘I see you’, but carries deeper connotations of ‘I recognise, respect and welcome you’. Taking this hospitable approach to our service, it’s a notion that has certainly resonated in our group’s nine locations, where individuality and personality come first.
“We want to create a communal home from home in each neighbourhood, each store has its own feeling, so wherever you live, it becomes your local on the high street. All the stores are different, and we want the individuality of each one to come through, so each restaurant should have its own unique DNA in that sense.”
One way in which we’ve captured this essence is through our interior design. For our three latest outlets – Sevenoaks, Beaconsfield and Banstead – we worked closely with South African artists, who were commissioned to design bespoke prints and patterns.
Based between Johannesburg and Cape Town, design studio Fabrica helped to define Fego’s distinct look, along with London-based marketing agency Lyons & Tigers. Kai Interiors, meanwhile, created immersive, concept-driven spaces for an informal, laid-back ambience. The result: Three South African tribal motifs for each venue – Ndebele in Banstead, Xhosa in Beaconsfield, and Zulu in Sevenoaks.
“There’s a lot of styling in the feeling of the décor for each place, and a lot of artwork, we tried to create different environments and wanted to pay homage to our roots, but in a very modern way, using contemporary South African patterns from different areas of the country.
“It’s very subtle, but there are definitely references in the colour palettes and some of the patterns in each place, which are allusions to those kinds of styles. It’s inspiring and adds a lot of creativity to each store, paying homage to where we come from and a beautiful part of the world, while also giving them their own identities.”
As for the menus, rather than serving exclusively South African dishes, Fego’s food and drink offering is more about embodying the country’s multicultural spirit. Extensive and eclectic, our range of meals spans an assortment of countries, cultures and continents, resulting in a variety that’s exemplary of South Africa’s rule-breaking culinary approach.
“South African café culture is globally-inspired, taking traditional dishes and putting twists on them, there’s a lot of variation on the menu, and we’re not following standard rules, which has allowed us to experiment, so have a big menu with lots of variety.”