Entrepreneur Story: Four and Twenty Cafe


The dedication and passion shown by entrepreneurs is always inspirational to us. This week we're inspired by Marijke and Tracy, co-founders of Four & Twenty Cafe, who shared the breathtaking inspiration behind their restaurant and gave us some advice for when things get tough.

Entrepreneur Story: Four and Twenty Cafe

They say there’s nothing quite as intense as a moment of clarity when you suddenly see what’s really possible for you. For some entrepreneurs, the decision to start a business is a long carefully analysed process. For others, it’s simply a moment where you know “this is it”.

We sat down with Marijke, co-founder and chef of Four and Twenty Cafe, who chatted to us about her “moment” and what it’s like to build a business.

Four and Twenty Entrepreneur Story

That magical moment

Back in 2011, Marijke and Tracy were just friends innocently travelling to France with no intention of starting a business. Both in chef school at the time, their absolute love for food was what drew them there. The plan was to go on a culinary tour and sample grapes, confit rabbit, truffles, and anything else they found. Basically, they were just there to eat (sounds like our kind of holiday).

But fate had other ideas.

“We had this weird cathartic moment while eating Laduree macarons under the Eiffel Tower and just thought – we want to take this feeling home.”

Eating a rose flavoured macaron that felt like pushing your nose into an actual rose got Marijke and Tracy quite emotional. That feeling of complete wonder and excitement about food and flavour is what they wanted to share with others, and ultimately why they decided to open Four and Twenty.

The rest of their trip was spent planning the business. A year later a property became available – the premises of the old Orchid Cafe that they had always loved – and they knew it was meant to be.

What a restaurant takes to succeed

Getting off the ground and being flexible

“We just jumped in the deep end. A lot of the things that seem to have to be well thought out never were. We just went for it.”

We’ve all had times where we felt like we were “winging it”. Marijke and Tracy were no different when starting Four and Twenty. Not having any experience running a business, let alone a restaurant, they took in as much feedback as they could.

“Feedback has been really valuable in tailoring the business and refining the concepts we had, to become what the customer wants.”

They focussed on meeting the needs of people who value what they value – the experience of food and flavour. Marijke and Tracy not only have a passion for cooking, but also for people who appreciate the importance of good food. Their goal is to create a “moment” for these people, and they use their comments and suggestions to help do this.

They found that building the business around their passions while still keeping a focus on what customers want helped guide their cafe to where it is now.

Delicious Treats

Dealing with negativity

While people are generally lovely and will give you feedback that helps you improve, they can also be straight out nasty. You know what we’re talking about, the ones who take to social media because their cappuccino had 1ml less foam than their friend’s. Naturally as an entrepreneur negative feedback like has the ability to really get you down – you have put everything you have into your business after all.

“There were times, especially at the beginning, where harsh reviews would knock our confidence and make us think we were going to fail any minute”.

Now we’re not saying negative reviews are all bad. When you’re starting out and learning how to run a business you’re going to make mistakes, and harsh comments can alert you to kinks that need to be ironed out. But there are those odd times where people take things too far, which can make you question why you even started a business in the first place.

“It was a big personal lesson to get over that feeling of failure and disappointment, and to take what we could out of the lesson and move forward.”

A big learning for Marijke and Tracy was that you can’t be everything to everyone. There are different types of customers who want different things and have different expectations.

You need to get to a point where you’re comfortable with the types of expectations you meet and not let the negative things get you down (because no matter what you do, there’s going to be at least one bad review in there somewhere).

For more tips on dealing with negative reviews, especially online, keep an eye out for our article this Thursday.

Restaurant Customers

Four and Twenty and Yoco

Marijke and Tracy signed up for Yoco soon after they opened their cafe. Being a new business, they found the personal touch helpful and reassuring.

“If you say you need help – it happens. They appreciate the urgency and immediacy of the industry and it really makes a difference.”

At Yoco we understand that people using our card readers are actually running a business. That card payments are a big part of intaking money and a big part of their success. Which is why we’ve structured our support so that we can be there when you need us, no waiting in queues or being put on hold.

“You’re dealing with a personal service provider as opposed to a massive infrastructure.”

To see all the delicious goods they have on offer, be sure to visit Four and Twenty’s website. Their all day breakfast is a must-try.

To learn how Yoco can help you run and grow your business, visit our website.

About the author: Robyn

RobynRobyn - Social media and community manager

When you’re engaging with Yoco on social media, Robyn is the girl you’re talking to. She loves learning from our community and seeing small businesses thrive. In her spare time you’ll find her off hiking in some forest, curled up with a book or singing karaoke (badly).

After graduating with a B.Bus Sci degree from UCT, she found Yoco and jumped in head first. She now manages Yoco’s social media profiles and online community, and writes an article or two for the blog.

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