This is Jean François Schevenels, the owner of Liège Café, an upscale patisserie, bakery and restaurant in Sandton, one of the wealthiest districts in Johannesburg. He is the proud fourth generation of artisan pastry chefs from Liège Belgium. Before moving to South Africa, he had been honing his craft in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe.
With a menu offering such wonders as “Waterzooi de Poisson” (Belgian fish stew, salmon, mussels and kabeljou served in creme sauce and vegetables julienne), “Chateaubriand Béarnaise” (seared beef fillet , Béarnaise sauce served with fries and fresh vegetables), and authentic homemade “Liège waffles topped with Chantilly cream and dark chocolate ganache”, Mr. Schevenels was a pioneer. He was bringing French-Belgian gastronomy, tradition and art-de-vivre to South African culinary explorers and gourmets.
Liège Café opened in August 2014 with great fanfare featuring Miss South Africa. After a few months of operation, its ratings skyrocketed. Tripadvisor gave a 4.5 out of 5 stars and #4 out of 132 restaurants in Johannesburg, reviewers were ecstatic: “You’d be hard pressed to resist the call of crisp, buttery, croissants, brioche, tarts and sweet pastries” wrote the magazine Food & Home Entertaining, “It’s heaven in earth” went the magazine Hello Joburg.
Customers were sending plenty of stars: “What a nice surprise to find real fine dining in the heart of Sandton (…) I will definitely be back …. again and again and again” commented one, “My 21st birthday celebration was a huge success and was more than I ever expected it to be (…) By far one of my favourite restaurants in Jhb!” applauded another.
Read the rest of Liège Café’s story in the article on linkedin “Why Brands Need to Partner with Change to Win in the African Retail Boom”
Lately there was a heated debate on linkedin about the outfit to have when you travel. The author of the post – a sales rep – was showing a photo of himself with two colleagues in a plane. All had perfect smiles, crisp shirts and blue/grey ties.
Numerous comments lamented that “people fly in pyjamas and flip flops these days!” as they put it. They argued that your next client or next employer, might be the person seating next to you at the airport, in the plane, at Starbucks. And you surely don’t want to miss an opportunity because you have no etiquette.
The other half of the comments argued that in the face of “anti-comfort trends in the today’s air industry (less legroom, smaller seats, etc.)“, your travel will be a misery if you fly all-dressed up. Casual wear was their preference.
What’s your opinion? What’s your preferred outfit when you travel?
There was a recent time when the conversation about the future of brick-and-mortar would see retailers becoming perplex and nervous. Retail industry analysts were envisioning a complete takeover by e-commerce and an inexorable decline of physical stores. ‘Not so fast’ is a conclusion one could now draw from looking closely at what is actually happening on the ground.
In Johannesburg many retailers have noticed that customers spend a longer time in-stores as they do various things before, aside or after shopping. Some customers stroll across the store and take pictures of the décor, others pose at a particular spot and do selfies, others zoom in on price tags, labels, and specific items. Whether it’s for friends and family to weigh in in their purchase decision making or for sharing their shopping experience, customers widely share these pictures on their social media. Result: retailers find themselves at the centre of online conversations, comments and recommendations.
Seeing an opportunity to get a social media boost and generate more footfall, various retailers have invested in upgrading their store design, fine-tuning their product offerings, and installing tools that encourage customers to have fun whilst shopping, such as a photo booth that tweets and emails digital images.
In the middle of a day of field research, I came across Lethabo Maboi who is a well-known stylist and fashion consultant in Johannesburg.