Renowned businessman Allen Ambor (76), the founder and executive chairman of Spur Corporation, has announced that he will retire on 1 March 2019.
It all started on 24 October 1967 when Allen opened the doors of the Golden Spur in Dean Street, Newlands. Since its humble beginnings Spur has grown into an iconic and internationally recognised brand with close to 600 outlets worldwide, which collectively employ over 15 000 people. Spur Corporation now also houses seven restaurant brands, including Panarottis Pizza Pasta, RocoMamas, John Dory’s Fish Grill Sushi, The Hussar Grill and Casa Bella.
Allen says it took him years to find premises for the first steak ranch and then had to patiently wait another one and a half years while the building was constructed. Fortunately, we created a business that happened to be located in the right place at the right time. We touched a nerve in the community and had queues day and night, even in the rain. People loved the food, décor and energy – people wanted to be there, he remembers.
He soon opened a second restaurant, Seven Spur in Sea Point. With the immense popularity of these branches, Allen decided that franchising was the best option to grow the Spur business, while enabling others to become part of the Spur Family as franchisees. An old school friend came to Golden Spur one evening at the height of the season and asked Allen to help him, as he wanted to open a steak house in Cape Town. He turned out to be our first franchisee.
Throughout his career Allen has been an innovative trailblazer with an uncanny ability to build brands. He helped design Spur’s unique décor and under his guidance Spur was the first restaurant to specifically cater for children by providing a play area, specifically catered for children by welcoming them (to the initial surprise of their parents in the early days) and later on providing play areas. Allen has always been personally involved in Spur’s distinct branding and marketing. Household names such as Cheddamelt, Salad Valley, Chico the Clown, Hunga Buster, Monsterito, Hot Rock, Palamino and many more catchy phrases bear testament to creative energy he invested into the South African restaurant industry over five decades.
Allen’s guidance of the Spur board in his capacity as Executive Chairman has had substantive influence on the company’s growth and success. Spur Group CEO Pierre van Tonder paid tribute to Allen’s vision and exemplary leadership. “We all have a deep sense of appreciation for Allen’s invaluable contribution. His brave entrepreneurial mind-set lives on in our organisation and the growth of our company over many decades is synonymous with Allen’s unwavering customer-centric and hands-on approach. His on-going contribution to South African society and the legacy he has entrenched in our company are colossal.”
Pierre added that Allen has played a big part in many of the careers of Spur’s management. “His guidance, mentorship and experience has helped many of us to get to where we find ourselves today. The principles with which Allen has led our organisation and mentored our colleagues will stand us in good stead in times to come. After five decades at the helm, he can rest assured that the company he worked so hard for will be in good hands.”
Over the next 12 months Allen will still be involved in his current capacity as Executive Chairman at Spur Group, as well as in his role as the creative custodian whilst continuing to guide strategy. He said it is going to be a challenge to find new interests. “I am not someone who likes to do little and I enjoy creative work.” His advice to other entrepreneurs is simple: “Do what you enjoy and do it well. Demand good work, but never forget to respect yourself your colleagues and your work. Be humble and help as many people as possible on the way.”
Source: Spur Corporation Press Release – www.spurcorporation.com