Maxi’s people-centric business model drives employee development


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Maxi's 21st anniversary

Hard work, dedication and professionalism is rewarded at Maxi’s; just ask Gairoonisha Ishmail – better known to her family of regulars as Nisha. The widowed mother of two who began her career at Maxi’s in 1986 is now manager with the trendy family restaurant chain.

Customers at Maxi’s in Alberton are greeted by Ishmail’s welcoming smile, whether it’s for the breakfast rush or family dinners and get-togethers.  “I don’t have much of a social life because I am at the restaurant all the time,” the dedicated manager explains. “I don’t have to, I just love what I do,” she adds without apology.

Ishmail’s dedication stems partly from tragedy. When she lost her husband six years ago she needed to provide for her family – her sons Riyaan and Yasseen.  “I had to embrace my life. I could not wish to be someone else as I had children and a career to nurture. Working here at Maxi’s is a rewarding challenge, and it allows me to provide for my children, and that helps fulfill me as a mother.”

When asked what is it about her restaurant that makes customers want to linger over that cup of coffee, or her team want to work even harder, she responds happily: “A hardworking scullery means dishes for a happy kitchen, and a delighted kitchen means a happy waiter, which translates to satisfied customers.

“I believe that team work and a positive attitude is everything, and that by supporting each other, we also learn from one another,” continues the manager with 33 years of restaurant experience.

Ishmail trained to be a manager under Johan Coetzee, the founding owner, in Menlyn before moving to Alberton. She looks back and says the risk of joining a new company has never crossed her mind. “I have been a cleaner, a cashier and a supervisor. I wanted a challenge that would make use of all those skills and add to them. I’m a better person and manager because I learnt from the ground up. I was encouraged to test myself and have been rewarded.”

In her years with Maxi’s Ishmail has learnt much and seen changes as the chain has become the fastest growing family restaurant in the country. She feels the group’s success is as much hers and puts it down to the lessons she has learnt.

Greg Binstead, General Manager of Maxi’s, concludes that it is special people like Ishmael that is the secret ingredient to the group’s success.

“As a people-focused company we believe in building relationships by identifying and nurturing talent from the inside. As our employees understand and believe in this ethos, they spread a message of care and respect to our customers, which ensures repeat business and sustained growth for the franchisee and the organization as a whole.”

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