Restaurateur Bertus Basson shares tips to help eateries survive lockdown

In die Sop proves the pandemic is not the only reason restaurants fail.

Apart from the pandemic, bad service, old menus and uninspiring décor are often the reasons that restaurants aren’t doing so well. In Bertus Basson’s reality show, In die Sop: Restaurant Evolusie these problems and more are addressed and Basson and his team (including the likes of décor expert Missi Overturf) have a mere 72 hours to re-envision and redo the restaurants.

Basson says: “I have made great success over the years, but I’ve also made a lot of mistakes and learned hard lessons. Now I want to share these insights with other restaurant owners.”

Bertus Basson owns five restaurants in the Stellenbosch area and says that the Covid-19 pandemic may not demotivate restaurant owners. In fact, they need to stay positive and make clever plans to keep their doors open. “We are positive. We have to be. We come up with plans swiftly. We can go on.”

ALSO READ: Lockdown level 4: The five best Gauteng restaurant takeaway spots


According to Bertus Basson, small menus are the future. He also says that restaurant owners should try to work with local suppliers as far as possible. It is less costly, and you build strong relationships with the people around you. Basson also suggests that chefs should cook for where they are based. “If you are in the Karoo, cook Karoo cuisine. Connect yourself and your restaurant to your environment.” All in all, he says: “Keep it small, focused and fresh.”

Revamp in 72 hours

Turning a restaurant around in a matter of three days was really tough for the In die Sop team. But, Bertus Basson had an amazing team and they followed a process with each restaurant – from cleaning, tidying up and decluttering to sorting out the menu and paperwork, fixing the kitchen and more.

A lot happened behind the scenes. They spent a lot of time with the restaurant owners and their menus. Bertus Basson says people need to look at the restaurants from a new perspective. “We can’t make a success of it. It is for inspiration, and they need to take it further. It is still their businesses. We can only give them the roadmap.” Basson says that many of the restaurants’ models were adapted, and they work well.

New name, new restaurant

In die Sop sure comes with its surprises, including giving some of the restaurants brand-new names. Bertus Basson says that a name is a personal thing and it should mean something. “A generic name is so impersonal… [A name] connects a restaurant to a place. Restaurants tell stories. They build small eco-systems of people around them.”

Covid and restaurants

In his opinion, the most recent lockdown restrictions will be for more than two weeks. “Luckily, it is in the winter season which is a quiet time for most restaurants,” says Basson. “Hopefully, we have a successful summer season to look forward to.” He says that restaurant owners should have a look at their business models and find ways to evolve. “Keep yourself relevant. Look after yourself and your staff.”

Off-screen Bertus Basson is busy reworking and adapting his restaurants’ models. He is also working on two new restaurants – one to open as soon as Covid-19 restrictions allow and the second to launch at the end of October. He says the restaurants are both in historic buildings in the Stellenbosch area and the South African history and indigenous ingredients were the main inspiration.

Watch In die Sop: Restaurant Evolusie on kykNET (DStv channel 144), Wednesdays at 8PM.

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits