How to start a restaurant business in South Africa from a customer's perspective
I'm not in the restaurant business but here are some thoughts as a customer (the most important person you should think about).
Location. Make sure it's in an area that gets a lot of foot action during the day and at night.
Waiters/waitresses. I don't think owners focus on who they hire enough. But if you think about it, waiters are the face of your company in the eyes of the customer. So also treat them like that, because if they hate their job, it will show and make the experience bad for me.
Yes, it's an experience. Think about why people go out to eat... "We haven't been out to eat lately. Wanna go somewhere tonight?" Not only is your restaurant about the food, but it's always about the experience. You need to pay attention to every single detail: staff, interior design, if water glasses are filled, etc. I've been to restaurants where the food was really good but the service was horrible. Did I go back? Nope.
Be very personal. It is quite rare when the business owner or the chef comes to talk to guests. I tend to be very impressed when that happens. Ask for feedback. Any negative comments should be fixed immediately.
Do customer research. Not sure if you've already opened your restaurant, but make sure people want your type of food. If there are already 10 Italian restaurants in a mile radius, then common sense tells you not to open one. You've got to be unique, but also have something that people want. If you already have a restaurant, talk to customers: "How did you hear about us? Did you enjoy the food? Is there something else you'd look for us to add to the menu in the future?" This goes back to #4 about being personal, but this should also be used towards continuously making your restaurant better and better everyday.
Hello Peter is crucial. If you aren't tech savvy, then you need to get started today (...stop reading this thread and go ask a young person in the street how to use it). All of my restaurant choices are based solely off of Hello Peter reviews. When I say all, I mean all. I don't mess with 1-3 stars. Read customer reviews to figure out your strengths/weaknesses. I would look up your friend's restaurant to see what Hello Peter reviews said (I'm betting not good). Message me the name of your restaurant and city, and I'll tell you if I'd eat there.
Find a mentor. Or at least find some advice from someone. Is there a restaurant in your city/town that has been around for years and years that's always crowded? Approach the owner of that restaurant and just say you're love his/her restaurant, and you'd love some advice as an aspiring restauranteur. Then use their advice to make your idols become your competition.
If you want to be a better business person, I suggest watching The Profit on CNBC. It'll teach you how to think about people, process, and product.