‘I've bled through over R600,000 to keep my business running during load shedding, but I might still lose it’

The interior of a Mozambican-inspired restaurant chain, Mozambik.

Angelo Zachariades and his wife are franchisees of the Mozambik restaurant and own two of these establishments in Gauteng. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 21, 2023


As load shedding rages on indefinitely, entrepreneurs are feeling the heat in their pockets as they are haemorrhaging money in attempts to keep their businesses running.

These are the exact circumstances that Angelo Zachariades and his wife Lynn are under as they desperately try to hang on to their restaurants amid unending hardship.

The pair are franchisees of the Mozambik restaurant and own two of these establishments in Gauteng.

“We need generators to operate the restaurant and a lot of kitchen equipment cannot run on solar unless there are a lot of panels. This equipment draws a lot of power, for example, an extractor or chip fryer. The generator costs us R500 for every two hours in just diesel,” said Zachariades.

The two generators cost R280,000 each. There are also extra costs associated with maintaining the generator, he said. “It’s killing our business”.

According to the entrepreneur, they have attempted to switch as many of their appliances to gas. However, fridges and cold-rooms cannot run on this form of energy.

The couple also has four inverters with lithium iron batteries to run the WiFi, music and TVs within the eatery to entertain patrons. Being R22,000 each, they total up to R88,000.

They sought quotes from solar power companies to convert their restaurants into this renewable energy, but they came up with the enormous figures of R1.6 million per store.

“We have also had to reduce our stock, as it could spoil during load shedding when we are not there. This can happen from midnight to 4am in the morning when we can’t turn the generator on.

“To ensure that none of it goes bad in the fridges and freezers, we have resorted to ordering less and having more frequent deliveries. This adds up to more expenses,” he said.

When load shedding first started, Zachariades said customers would flock to the eatery to get food, but as time went by, they have implemented gas or solar panels at their homes and no longer go out as much.

“People have a lot of solutions for cooking at home. So business is tight at the moment. People also have less money to spend,” said the Mozambik owner.

At Stage 6 load shedding, there is zero profit. Zachariades has held on to his staff and said he will not be letting any of them go to cut costs.