Richard Griffin | Restauranteur and Founder of The Highly Acclaimed Madame Zingara

Richard Griffin

Richard Griffin is the managing director of dinner theatre and restaurant group Madame Zingara Holdings. He has a talent for creating unique dining experiences for customers and his focus on delivering personalised service is almost fanatical. Every night that Madame Zingara runs, Richard Griffin and his crew transform the famed Belgian tent of mirrors into a theatre of dreams, complete with spellbinding circus acts and dazzling, dramatic performances.


My Highlights | We took a company from 100 people and grew it into 350 people in the space of six months. Some people would call it suicide. I call it lots of star training. We are very clear about the fact that we want our staff to be the greatest success possible. We’re very clear on the fact that we want everybody to feel the same scope of hope that I, or you, or anybody else feels.

The Key to Success | You have to believe. If you don’t believe, you will never find that success. I believe that we are all destined for success and owning your own failures is one of the greater successes. By not distancing yourself from your failure, but rather owning it, that is actually the greatest success because by then, you’re accepting it and you’re learning from it.

I Gave It Away To Get More Back | was to know that I’m doing this for reasons other than myself. I did this by giving up my company and learning to love it for what it is, without the money attached to it. I want Zingara to do good and I want Zingara not only to do good now; I want Zingara to do good for many years to come.

My Dreams and Ambitions | We want to build a company that is the best company – not only for myself, for everybody. We don’t only have to teach our staff that this is the job that they need to do, we also need to spend our time teaching them that this is how we need to think about the way we do the job. In South Africa, our minimum-wage groups are so depressed about the minimum wage that it is actually what’s blocking them to find success and because of that they are forgetting to believe in their own success.

Motivating People | In any given month, we will spend anywhere between R¼ million and R½ million on staff development. What we then see is higher staff retention. On average, they’ll stay 4-8 years. Education is for all our staff and we provide full access.

Our People Bless Our Business | Whenever we build a new restaurant, every single staff member in the company has to write a message of love and place it in the floor.

What Drives Me | I found my strength when I was 16. I had a nervous breakdown and it was food and kitchens that gave me a sense of peace and gave me a sense of accomplishment. Food is very heeding; restaurants are very heeding. Being creative in anything is a heeling process and restaurants saved me.

My Strength | I refuse to give up. I don’t ever give up and my creativity comes from not giving up. This strength has taught me to be able to value someone else’s strengths too.

When A Person Is Feeling | Valued and heard, that is when they start to shine.

Lessons I Have Learnt | It is the volunteer that always wins, the person that always puts their hand up in the air to say, “Pick me, let me help, I’ve got extra time. I’ll come and work at night. Don’t worry, boss, I’ll do this one!” Those are the people that grow.

Principles I Live By | I don’t believe in doing the same thing twice – that’s boring.

I Am Inspired By | My parents. I’m so grateful for the role that they’ve played in my life. They’ve just always stood by me… On a business level, it’s people like Kevin Hedderwick from Famous Brands. The guy is an absolute inspiration. What he’s done with that business is unbelievable… Another resource that has inspired me many, many years ago was one of the first business books I ever read called Anita Roddick’s “Body and Soul.” And in that book, it said, “to succeed you have to believe with such a passion that you make it a reality.” It was one of the most profound sentences I’d ever read in my business career and I still use it today with our staff, in our training manuals.

My Legacy | I want to leave something behind that has the benefits of every single person that works in it.

We Need To Take More Responsibility For Our Lives | We have a generation of “I can’t”, we have a generation of “I won’t”, we have a generation of “woe is me”. We need to stop blaming other people for our failure and rather accept it as our own and stop distancing ourselves from our responsibilities?

Richard Griffin 1No Is Not An Option | Until you try three other ways.

A Culture of Solutions | We are very clear on the fact that we want nobody to use the word “can’t”, we want them to use the words “how can I?”


A Consistent Work-Force is The Key To Constant Success | I believe that a consistent work-force is a stable product, it’s a consistent product, it’s consistent turn-over, it’s a consistent revenue. When I look into restaurants and businesses… and we are afforded the luxury of looking at a lot of restaurant’s balance sheets (because we look into buying restaurants), we can always see a consistency issue. And you pick it up in the general ledger. You can see it from the bottom-line performance of what happens on a daily basis in terms of turn-over. When turn-over is going up and down, you can normally look to the payroll and the other side of things and you see staff are going up and down at the same time. The staff member is my prize and my greatest focus.

The Key To Success | Success is about belief and it’s about passion. You’ve got to believe that we can.

Principles I Live By | Get on with it. Be Resilient. Be Truthful.

On Leadership | It’s not my responsibility to make you shine. It’s my responsibility just to put the stage there. The rest of it is your job!

It’s Simple And It Can All Be Yours | If you want it, it’s yours, you can have it. That’s my message to anybody on this Earth. If you want it bad enough, work! It’s not skills and it’s not brains – I don’t have much of those. But what I do have is I have a very good knowledge of what a cabbage is worth and if I give you 2 cabbages and you give me back 1 cabbage, I’m f#cked.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply