Savoury wafts of sizzling meat billow from a garden restaurant nestled among the houses in the suburb of Sherwood. Randerees Braai Foods “the traditional and spit braai specialist” had humble beginnings in Spearman Road, Sydenham. From a small, green-roofed lapa, juicy braaied shish kebabs and chicken boti served with roti, lemon wedges and chilli sauce were sold.
When the business began to grow, it moved to the home of owner Yusuf Randeree. The Braai Ranch currently operates from Randeree’s garden, where customers are treated to a range of South African braai favourites. On their menu are sausages, wors, loin chops and chicken wings, to name a few. Customers have the option of ordering a takeaway, or sitting down and enjoying their food fresh from the coals.
Randeree, 57, grew up in Warwick Avenue and attended Burnwood High School. He graduated from Springfield Teacher’s College and went on to teach at Orient Islamic School. After 17 years of teaching, Randeree took the plunge and ventured into the restaurant industry. “It was actually an ex-pupil of mine who recognised my talent for business. It was after I introduced the first Orient tracksuit that he suggested I get into business. I’ll never forget that day.”
Prior endeavours of breaking into the industry include Wrap It Up Café, Stairway Seafood and Steakhouse and introducing the first Halaal Debonairs to Overport. “Each of my previous restaurant ventures involved partnerships of some sort. I was the jockey. Then one day I realised it was time to ride my own horse. I saw a gap in the market. Burgers, shawarmas, pizzas and prawns were exhausted and I wanted to be different. ‘We lead, others follow,’ is our slogan,” said Randeree.
In 2009 Randeree started his own braai business with his wife. “I basically started this business with nothing. I even had to borrow braai stands from my friend to get things started. To this day, we still meet up. When the business began to grow, I was able to buy the braai stands off him,” he said.
Home is where the heart of his business is. “I started it from my house in Collingham Road, Sherwood, and I love it. It’s comfortable. After work my wife and I can just walk down the driveway and we’re home. I don’t have a landlord to answer to, so I can make alterations in business hours and on work days; there’s more freedom this way,” he said.
The second venture is the catering division, which specialises in traditional and spit braais for functions. They’ve done weddings, birthdays, team building, corporate lunches and product launches. “One day a lady asked my wife if we do functions. I was busy preparing food, so we took down her contact details to call the following day. That was the first function we catered for, it was a pre-wedding celebration,” said Randeree.
The home business runs over the weekend so neighbours have to be considered. “There’s no music or alcohol, we have a mature crowd, they just come to eat. The neighbours are very supportive,” said Randeree. With bookings for December beginning in March of that year, Randeree said his success stemmed from his passion. “I love to cook and to serve because when the customer is happy, I sleep well. In this business you’ve got to bend over backwards, but that’s what I love about it.”