By: Elesi Azumah
Based in the picturesque Compensation Beach Road of Ballito, the official “Wet the Roof” opening for Ocean Basket restaurant was a grand seafood and sundowner’s affair fit for royalty and invited guests who definitely portrayed an acquired love for whitebait on Monday 19th March 2018.
Setup within the upper deck area of the restaurant, the Mediterranean ambience and décor fed the imaginations of each guest as the image of Greek Island, Mykonos came to mind instantly.
Sitting in any table, you have a wonderful 180 degree view of the ocean and a clean view of the kitchen/bar area where you can see Franchisee Co-Owner Jason Powell work his magic from time to time as his a qualified chef.
Every entrée served was as heavenly as the next, with an appetizing variety of starters to choose from such as the: Zeus Meze Platter to the Venus Meze Platter which consisted of numerous nibbles such as the: Crumbed Prawn Tails to Mussels infused with a lemon garlic sauce which was absolutely divine.
The Main Course Platter was an ultimate show stopper as each guest wasted no time filling their plates with everything from Calamari Steak Strips to Prince Prawns but the flattened favourite for the day had to be the sushi entrées which had guests going for thirds if not more.
Following your dreams and passions is proving to work out well for the Powell’s as each success story starts off with a lot of risk taking and strong faith.
Melanie mentions how they have both been in the restaurant industry for seven years further adding: “Jason’s a chef and I have some lifestyle background which is a good combination for us.
“We had our own brand and this specific opportunity came along because the CEO of Ocean Basket, Grace Harding was a customer at our previous restaurant. She loved our food and our concept and as they say every customer is important.
“When we discovered who she was, we immediately started chatting and she actually gave us some business advice on our own brand. We drove all the way from Nelspruit to the Mall of Africa to have a meeting with her and she gave us two hours of her time.
“Within the meeting she mentioned to us how she would always be interested in a couple like us possibly joining Ocean Basket, it wasn’t our focus at all at the time but it definitely planted a seed for us,” she said.
Melanie also spoke of her family’s desire on coming back to the coast but didn’t know how until the opportunity availed itself.
“We have a little boy who was really ill and looked at coming back to KZN for a long time. The CEO sent us a message saying; “What about Ballito, there’s an Ocean Basket for you guys” and all of a sudden something we never thought of suddenly looked like a serious possibility.
“We literally sold up our businesses and restaurant Food Fundi including our house. That was March last year and we were here by June 2017,”she says.
Disussing scepticism behind franchising with a seafood restaurant due to its acquired taste she said, “It wasn’t really a concern, the affordability of Ocean Basket has brought in more people into the seafood space and more people are enjoying seafood because it’s a growing market.
“People think its limited but it’s really not, Sushi is obviously a massive market globally,” she said.
With talented Ballito based musician, Ron Parker serenading guests to seafood lovers filling the tables and their plates not forgetting the amazing five star hospitality and goodie bag treats, one can definitely describe Melanie and Jason Powell as a dynamic duo who possess a great love for people and also aim at ‘feeding each sole at a time’.