People with a taste for life: how Spur started up 50 years ago

How did Spur start up 50 years ago?  By finding the perfect premises.

Location, location, location. Tale as old as time, right?  Yip. But no less true.

In 1964, Allan Ambor had a vision. He was determined to open a steakhouse which offered everything he wanted in a restaurant, but could not find. And it absolutely had to be in Cape Town. First step: a place to trade from.  Without the perfect property, his dream could not be realised.

Back then, absolutely nothing was happening in the city from a property perspective, which made it quite tough to find anything exciting. But being a man on a mission, Allen and every real estate agent he could find never gave up the search of finding the perfect spot.

At long last and rapidly running out of ideas, he was shown a corner site in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.  On it were three old shops and around the corner was Newlands Cricket stadium, Newlands Rugby stadium, the South African Breweries and a few good schools.  Allen had an “Aha!” moment. Perfect. This place had potential written all over it.

3 years later, the site’s redevelopment was completed and the first Spur opened in Dean Street, Newlands. Aptly named the Golden Spur, it was a roaring success from the get go.  What eventually became the Spur Corporation was built on the foundations of this first steakhouse: be in a superb location, give excellent customer service, look after the kids and serve great food.

It worked so well in 1967 that people formed queues in the rain and today, 50 years later, Spur still packs horseshoe booths across the country and the continent.

Brand strength? This is what it’s all about.  To be able to keep a vision consistent for 50 years is admirable, but to realise that vision in every outlet over the same period is phenomenal.  Never let go of your original vision, no matter how hard it becomes!

Of course it’s not all about premises and customer centricity – it takes special people to build successful firms.  You’ve heard it before: hire the attitude and train the skill.  This is exactly what Allen kept on doing and it paid off time and time again.

You need passionate, hard-working people who believe in your vision and who are willing to build your dream with you.  Treat them well, reward them well and you will have lifers who grow with you.  After all, you are only as good as your team, regardless of how awesome you think you are.  It takes a family to raise a thriving company through all the ups and downs, good times, bad times, for sickness and for health.

Today, Spur is not only a steakhouse franchise with kiddies’ play areas, but a listed corporation which owns several other successful brands, consistently and steadily growing.  It may be an old-fashioned success story, but it’s a universal truth of unwavering vision, elbow grease, employing the right people and sharing a passion for what you do.

People with a taste for life? For sure!


Copyright © 2017 by Natalie du Preez.

This article was written by Natalie du Preez and is original content,  which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.

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