Grain Food and Wood (or just Grain if you’re on a first name basis) is all about health. Not just healthy eating but healthy living in every sense of the word. The brainchild of two university friends, Lare and Gerrie, it’s a restaurant, retail space and showroom in Johannesburg’s vibrant Maboneng Precinct.
We chatted to Lare who shared the inspiration behind Grain, the challenges and rewards of running your own business and some words of encouragement for fellow entrepreneurs.
(P.S. They’re currently running a great offer of a free Americano when you order any breakfast, all day on Mondays. Check out their Facebook page for more info).
A natural connection
Lare and Gerrie have been friends since their university days. Having both started their own businesses since then, they met up three years ago and found they had a mutual need.
Gerrie owns a business that sells health and nutrition foods called Gihon Foods. Lare is the co-founder of Woodlady, an environmentally conscious company that creates furniture and other products from recycled wood.
They both needed a retail and showroom space, and both have a passion for a lifestyle that has a positive impact on our bodies and the planet – thus Grain Food and Wood was born.
“We decided to combine the two companies to meet this need (and create a health-conscious restaurant, while we are at it).”
Putting their philosophy into everything they do
Both Lare and Gerrie are advocates of nutrition and sustainable healthy living. This thinking is carried through in all that they do from the food, to the products and the little extras.
“We believe that health is essential and something that should be taken seriously.”
To make this vision a reality they did extensive research on what healthy really means. They looked at the newest trends in the health food industry and how they could change what they don’t like (i.e. how to make healthy food that’s tasty and isn’t made up of only leaves).
Their chef, Chomel, has since created some unique dishes like the grilled cheese sandwich on beetroot bread, which sounds (and looks) a bit crazy but is super tasty. The entire menu is made from organic ingredients from local producers and is free from gluten, preservatives, MSG and other additives.
“It’s wonderful to indulge in delicious guilt free healthy food – quite liberating actually.”
The retail space stocks Gihon Foods and Woodlady products, which reinforce Grain’s philosophy. Made from recycled and up-cycled wood, the furniture and crafts are their way of trying to make the world a better place.
The showcase area for young and upcoming artists, and free pilates classes hosted by New Beginnings Pilates, also contribute to they community they are building.
The ups and downs of entrepreneurship in South Africa
Lare and Gerrie jumped in head-first having had no previous experience in the restaurant industry – an incredibly brave move. Their passion propelled them along but seeing as they were basically sailing blind, they had to learn a lot of things very quickly.
Time is a constant challenge, as they both run other companies alongside Grain. Having to think about the raw materials, finances, marketing, employees, logistics (and all things in between) of not one but two businesses is no mean feat.
But tackling these challenges is what Lare loves most.
“It’s incredible how much you grow on a personal and professional level when you are faced with the challenges of owning your own business.”
Although it’s hard work and it’s often made up along the way, seeing something in which they have identified potential become successful is truly rewarding.
Some words of encouragement for fellow South African entrepreneurs
Having been through the tough challenges, Lare knows what it’s like to feel a little overwhelmed with everything happening at once. She shared her advice and learnings from her entrepreneurial adventures.
Believe in your vision
It might sound a bit cliche, but seriously – do not give up. Sometimes when you’re tired and frustrated and your bank account’s content is failing you it’s easy to get disheartened. But if you truly believe in your product and what you’re creating it will take shape before your eyes.
Learn from the process
You aren’t going to know what works best for your business right away. Especially if, like us, you’re jumping into the deep end with no wetsuit. As you progress your business will teach you a lot about itself – be willing to learn and use those learnings to adapt and change.
Your employees are a vital asset
If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.
Grain and Yoco
Having your time stretched between different tasks is a reality for many entrepreneurs, including Lare and Gerrie. The integration between Yoco and TabletPOS (a point of sale system powered by iKentoo) is seamless, and has streamlined the point of sale, card payments and running of the business – saving them valuable time on things like cash up and recon.
“It’s user friendly and makes our administrative life much easier.”
When they are not in the shop due to other responsibilities, Lare and Gerrie can see what’s happening at Grain via the Yoco app. Being able to view all transactions, sales history, items and staff on-the-go means they can do what they need to do and never lose sight of their business.
“We constantly know what’s going on in our business. We know where our money is going.”
Visit out website to learn more about how Yoco can save you time, and our integration with TabletPOS.