How to start a pizza business in South Africa
Mixed ingredient pizza on a wooden board

How to start a pizza business in South Africa

Pizza, almost everyone loves pizza, it’s a staple food for so many people. Pizza shop owners generally have high levels of fulfilment because of the joy they bring to people. This is a guide on how to start a pizza business in South Africa.

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Most families in the middle class buy a pizza at least once per month, people just love pizza. Some people prefer to buy pizza from the same shop while others like trying out different places once in a while. This is a great business to start if you are generally passionate about culinary art and being creative with different kinds of dishes.

The barriers to entry are quite steep, you can’t just wake up and decide to start a pizza business without having enough resources. This is not really a negative because it protects you from future competition, that’s if you manage to get past all the barriers to entry. The barriers to entry being experience and capital.

Get experience

You first need to know how to make pizza, you can’t really start a pizza business from scratch without knowing how to make pizza. The only possible way to do that without any experience is if you are looking to buy a franchise. Which will also require you to have some basic training.

You don’t really need formal education, but you need to know your way around the kitchen, not just how to make pizza. Most pizza shops don’t just sell pizza only, they sell extras as well like salads, you need to know how to make all the extras. Having experience also makes it easier to experiment with different ingredients.

The best way to get experience is by going to a culinary school for one year to learn how to cook. This will help you a lot, it will open you up to different flavours that you didn’t know existed and will be invaluable to your business. Just a one-year course will be enough, it will help you to pin a unique selling point to your pizza business. This is one of the barriers to entry, it’s hard to start this business without experience.

Choose your business model

You can either start your own pizza business from scratch or you can choose to franchise. Franchising means buying a business from an already existing brand. In this case you would buy the rights to own a Debonairs or Panarottis pizza shop.

Franchising has advantages and disadvantages; the advantages are that you won’t have a hard time with attracting customers. You will be operating under a recognizable brand with customer loyalty. Customers don’t really care who owns the franchise, all they want is pizza from a brand they trust.

The main disadvantage of franchising is that you lose control and have to pay royalties to the franchisor. Your control is severely limited, you can’t wake up and decide to make huge changes to your business. The product rules are strict and you also carry reputational risk. People can wake up and decide to boycott your franchise because of something done by another franchisee hundreds of kilometres away from you.

For this article, we will focus on building your own pizza business from scratch.

Choose the right location

Pizza shops are very similar to other restaurants, it’s all about the foot traffic. Most people just decide right on the spot to grab something to eat. This is why it’s so important to situate your business in a great location.

You want to make sure that your pizza shop is in an area that has lots of foot traffic and is clearly visible to the public. This should ideally be a town or a mall, it can also be just out of town, if the area receives a lot of foot traffic.

Get operating premises

Building operating premises when you are just starting out is not feasible for most people. The best option is to lease operating premises, the actual pizza shop in this case. This, coupled with renovations will be one your biggest expenses.

You might lease a shop that used to be a furniture shop, it will take a lot of renovating to turn into a restaurant. Renovations usually cost a lot more than people expect, you have to make your premises to look and feel like a pizza shop. This means buying tables, chairs, fixing the floor, repainting the walls.

Register your business

Registering a business only costs R125 in South Africa, this will help your business to become a legal entity among other benefits. You also have to comply with food and health laws, an inspector will come to check out your operating premises. You will also have to comply with zoning laws, sort out every paper work that you need at this stage.

Hire the right employees

This is not a business that you can run entirely on your own, you need people to help you to handle the day-to-day operations. Employees are the backbone of most restaurants and you need to make sure that you hire the right employees in order to get the best results.

Hire experienced employees for all the critical positions in your business, employees with no job experience can be assigned the not so critical parts of the business. It’s best to start off with as many experienced people as possible.

Design your menu

Decide on everything that will be sold and put it in a menu, the menu should comprise of the popular options and your own signature options. Make sure that the menu also includes some combo deals.

There are many ways in which you can present this menu, the popular options include printing it on a leaflet and having it on display right when someone is about to order. The display is usually in the form of a digital screen.

Get insurance

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you own a shop of any kind. People might get hurt while they are inside your premises then decide to sue your shop. A customer might get food poisoning due the negligence of your employees.

These are all things that can lead to nasty legal battles, you want to make sure that you are covered. This is why it’s so important to have insurance, it will cover the legal costs, these are costs that might even put you out of business.

Market your business

A pizza business in a prime location will market itself, however, you will have to spend a lot of money in creating brand awareness. This is just making sure that people are familiar with your pizza shop. You don’t really need to advertise on TV but just focus on local branding. Making sure that everyone in your geographical area knows about your shop.


This was a guide on how to start a pizza business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I have been thinking of starting a pizza business and have a strong believe that with the right knowledgeable people, I can make it. I need someone experienced in the similar speciality to guide me through. I am also willing to be an investor in a local pizza or burger restaurant business.

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