Cape Town restaurateur Peter Weetman. Image: Supplied.
CAPE TOWN - Cape Town restaurateur Peter Weetman, with more than 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, is passionate about supporting young entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Weetman,  the owner of the restaurants Societi Bistro, The Brasserie and Jonkershuis Constantia which employs roughly 150 people, is renowned for his generosity and support of others entering or already in the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) space.

He has a remarkable sensibility regarding hospitality and an acute understanding of business.

"Restaurants, hospitality 'spaces', are perhaps the perfect example of where manufacturing and retail meld. My working life has revolved around this configuration and it was time to formally put that knowledge to good use," said Weetman.

He attributes his success to years of solid experience and hard graft (work), which began from his teenage years packing fruit and vegetables for Shoprite, waiting tables in restaurants and managing the steakhouse, Bobby MacGee's, to his adult life of working nine-to-five as a recruitment consultant.

He also waitered at Signatures Restaurant and was hosting at the legendary Morton's at the V&A Waterfront.
Weetman said Morton's hired him as manager and asked him to drop the nine-to-five and waiting jobs and that was his real start in the business world.

He said this depth of experience and the comprehensive network built up over the years, had allowed him to move with the times and make sure his business never losts traction.
Weetman has also set up Weetman & Associates, positioned to provide advice and recommendations to all SME owners looking to turn a good enterprise into a great one.

"We are looking at  all SMEs, not only in hospitality. Every business, especially in the start-up stages, needs to implement structures, to tap into skilled human resources, to put the right systems in place, to develop suitable marketing strategies. This is what I have done and do all the time," he said.

Weetman has the uncanny ability to spot, hire, and nurture talented people and he also believes that one of the secrets of a successful business is having the right people in place and not just in the work place.

"It's an adage but true, that it is not so much who you know, but who knows you. Through Weetman & Associates we will put you and your business in touch with the people that can make a difference to your enterprise," he said.

Weetman, apart from his rigorous work ethic, also makes time for leisure and walks a carefree path that has led him back to his early love: dressage and his obsession with horses since he was a three-year-old.

Last year, he bought a horse, Harkamel's Cassius, and enlisted the support of renowned Olympic dressage trainer Katrine Puttick and now, instead of checking his smartphone first thing in the morning, he starts the day on horseback, listening to classical music and being instructed on the finer points of riding.

"Discipline balanced with humorous expression, embraced with a flexible strategic plan, is her philosophy (Puttick), and very applicable to business too," he said.
Weetman said the biggest challenge in his inspiring 32 years in the hospitality industry were raising finance, making the transition from being a manager to an owner and finding suitable staff in a small seaside village.

He advised people wanting to start a business in the sector to spend a week in the shoes of a restaurateur.

"To have real empathy for how your life will change as opposed to the romantic notion of what it would be like. Whatever your budget is to start a restaurant, know that in reality it will be three times that amount. Embrace your sense of humour, you will be faced with multiple small crisis daily, you can't make everyone happy, and remain true to the brand you dreamt of."

Regarding what impact the drought crisis has had on the industry, he said that in many ways it has had a positive impact.

"As we are all far more conscious of being less wasteful of such a precious resource and in others very challenging as hygiene standards needs to be maintained, and we need to be empathetic towards visitors who have worked hard all year to be able to afford to holiday in our beautiful city, only to be faced with multiple restrictions, and therefore decide to cancel their trips," said Weetman.