26 February 2016
Chesa Nyama is going to America, but what exactly is chesa nyama, or shisa
According to South Africa braai connoisseur Jan Braai, while "chesa nyama"
might literally mean "to burn meat" in isiZulu, it is a lot more than that. It is an
informal social event involving the traditional meat braai, where friends and even
strangers gather to celebrate the great South Africa social culture of food and
community. It is an opportunity to bring together people of all walks of life with
good food and good music, to make great memories.
Chesa Nyama is one of South Africa's fastest growing national brands, a
traditional braai restaurant franchise hugely popular with young people and people
looking for an authentic taste of African braai cuisine.
Gold Brands is now set to export the success of Chesa Nyama and South
African braai culture to the United States, with plans to open its first restaurant in
Nashville, Tennessee in October.
Gold Brands announced on 23 February that the company had signed a
memorandum of understanding for the expansion of the brand with private
investors, the South African industrial holdings firm Red Hornbill, and the White
Family Partnership, an American partner.
An area development agreement between these partners allows for the
establishment of Chesa Nyama Holdings in the US, with Gold Brands as a partner in
the joint venture. It will own 30% of the American company and Red Hornbill will
own 40%; the remaining 30% percent will be held by the White Family Partnership.
According to the deal, Red Hornbill and the White Family will cover the funding
Nashville set up as well as establishment costs for the further roll out of the
franchise in the US. While Gold Brands will not provide capital for the US venture, it
will be responsible for logistical support in the development of the product lines,
branding, menu costing and strategic support.
Gold Brands' chief executive, Stelio Nathanael, explained the origins of the
expansion plans to CNBC Africa: "We have long had a dream of taking Chesa
Nyama beyond the borders of Africa. The idea has always been to bring our iconic
South African braai culture to America."
"(While) we'll have to teach (the Americans) how to say Chesa Nyama first,"
Nathanael joked, "it's more about a restaurant dining concept giving that African
feel and what we as South Africans are about."
He attributes the success of the brand to South Africans who embrace the
combination of tradition with the contemporary. "(Our customers) love the brand so
much, love the vibe of the brand… (but) they (also) love the tradition of Chesa
Nyama and bringing it from the township to the suburbs is the reason for its
He is confident the model will translate not only to a large African expatriate
community in Nashville, but also to Americans looking to try something a little
Nothing quite compares to the communal atmosphere of the authentic South African shisa nyama braai. Americans will get their first taste of the experience when the Chesa Nyama franchise opens its first restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee in October 2016. The plan was announced by owners Gold Brands on 23 February 2016. (Image: Media Club South Africa)