The first Mike’s Kitchen, brainchild of its founder Mike lllion, was opened in Greenside on the 17th September 1972.The original interior was designed around a kitchen theme consisting of a distinctive black, white and red check colour scheme.
Another price-driven innovation, which was to become a Mike’s Kitchen trademark, was the salad bar, the actual dining area in the first restaurant had a large concrete plinth in the centre, which Mike turned into an enduring Mike’s Kitchen feature, by covering it with a tablecloth and displaying his salads on it. Besides being the first steakhouse to serve spare ribs, basted with a secret marinade, Mike’s also had a distinctive look and promised wholesome, hearty food at affordable prices for the whole family.
In the early 80’s Mike’s Kitchen grew extensively and opened 5 stores in Houston, Texas as well as two in Germany. The international expansion was handled by Mike lllion who emigrated in order to further develop the brand.
In 1983, Holiday Inn’s entrepreneur, David Lewis, bought the chain. David continued Mike’s Kitchen’s innovative trend by the Mike’s Birthday Club, which was to become an important marketing tool. Locally, David launched Mike’s Kitchen into an extensive growth phase by concentrating on suburban development in order to target the family market. This strategy resulted in the chain gaining on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in June 1986.
Sadly, David Lewis fell ill and the chain was acquired by hotel magnate, Sol Kerzner, and integrated into the entertainment group lnter leisure, which was anchored by its core business, Ster Kinekor. After a succession of managers, the business was acquired by a franchisee and a new company called Kingco was created.
It was believed that an entrepreneur with a passion and vision for the group was needed to launch the company into the new millennium and a new beginning. In June 1998 Garry Corney acquired the operating rights for Mike’s Kitchen from Kingco.
Garry Corney had the drive, passion and vision for the task at hand. After Garry’s sudden passing away, his wife Judy Corney and her team took control with the same vision and passion.
Under their control, the group has expanded with exciting, vibrant and dynamic new franchisees joining Mike’s Kitchen. Mike’s Kitchen has also been firmly repositioned as a family restaurant with a special focus on children. The salad bar and carvery are key features, as are good wholesome food and professional service.
Back in Greenside in 1972, Mike Illion (Oom Mike to the‘laaities’) noticed that there were no quality restaurants to go dine at. Even Tannie se ‘kombuis’ wasn’t up to scratch any more. Once the apple eventually hit the ground and the paw-paw hit the fan, Mike’s plan was set into motion. A plan that would change Greenside and South-Africa forever… to build the country’s greatest family restaurant.Mike's History
Our New Look
Mike’s decor focus is on the kitchen as a theme.
The design links the new image to Mike’s Kitchen’s distinguished past, while creating a contemporary atmosphere firmly grounded in the kitchen at home etc.
In keeping with Mike’s look and South African family, the menu includes unique South African dishes which supplement the existing all-time favorites and of course, Mike’s famous salad bar and carvery buffet. Mike’s Kitchen pioneered the franchising of restaurants in this country and in so doing, has created a powerful brand image.
The most important function of the Operations Department is the control and maintenance of ‘across the Board’ standards throughout the group.
The team is highly skilled in all methods of food preparation and general restaurant operations. Besides visiting the stores regularly to check on the standards, they provide the franchisees with an invaluable trouble shooting service.
All franchisees are provided with a comprehensive Operations Manual, which covers every detail of the Mike’s system and is constantly updated with new recipes, preparation methods and group standards.
The franchisor firmly believes in inviting input from the franchisees when reviewing standards and designing new meals for the menu. Any changes implemented in this regard are as a result of a series of debates amongst elected representatives of the franchisees and the franchisor.
Key Success Factors
Mike’s Kitchen basic promise of unbeatable value without compromising on service or atmosphere remains Unchanged. Mike’s Kitchen is set to continue as one of the most vital forces in the restaurant industry. The management team is driven by a burning desire to grow Mike’s as a restaurant chain that exceeds consumer expectations, by providing u n beatable value for money and exceptional food quality standards. The key factors of Mike’s Kitchen as a major force in the South African restaurant industry are:
• A menu with a combination of popular South African meals and unique, innovative new dishes
• A clear change in the sophistication and discernment of the South African customer as a direct result of globalisation, international exposure and local economic political stabilisation.