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Shane Herbst - Running a Village

24-year-old Shane is the owner and manager of Searles Village, a history-oriented restaurant in the heart of Great Brak River. The restaurant and pub started 2 years ago, after Shane finished his business management degree. Searles Village is aimed at keeping the rich history of the small Garden Route town alive.

“Everything you see in here we made with our own hands. From the walls that were built, to the floor, the plumbing and electricity, we did everything ourselves. It’s nice to sit back at the end of the day and to look at everything and know, all of the hard work you’ve done is paying off. So the journey has been very rewarding.

“When I finished studying, I came down and I worked for my dad at his construction company for a while. While I was working there, we started to build things up over here at Searles Village. So I was part of the whole experience. Opening the restaurant was a fairly give-or-take decision, because none of us really had any experience in catering. So I think it came from a love for the town and its history. We just squeezed our eyes shut and went for it. We thought that it was something Groot Brak needed. The town has such a beautiful history to it, and when you sit in here and you look at all the photos and feel the rustic atmosphere of the place, then you appreciate it. Everything around you in here is antique. They tell a story of their own.

shane herbst garden route 2
shane herbst garden route 5

"Everything you see in here we made with our own hands. From the walls that were built, to the floor, the plumbing and electricity, we did everything ourselves."

“We’ve made a lot of mistakes since the beginning. We opened in 2017, in the rush period of December. We were thrown into the deep end. And at that time we still had a small menu, we took things slow but it was so busy. Then throughout the years we made some mistakes, and we learned from them. I’d say we’ve grown a lot, word-of-mouth has really helped to build our name.

“I know a lot of the people that come in and out here, I greet them by the name, I know exactly what they eat and drink. The locals that come here regularly, you have to know them.

“As manager, it’s nice to be hands-on, you have to be hands-on in a place like this. Unfortunately the business is not at a place where I can afford another manager, so at this point I’m doing it by myself. My parents are also helping me here and there. In this industry, the hours are long. I live on the premises so I don’t actually ever leave work, in a way. It’s very exhausting, but everyone is working for something so maybe in a year or two I can afford a manager and then I can start a new business. Because I’m not seeing myself doing only this for the rest of my life. I want to build the business, assign a manager and still organise everything, but then start more businesses and branch out. Also, I see myself in the future managing four or five businesses maybe, also restaurants.

“I will go a little bit smaller in the future, this might be the biggest restaurant. But I’d also like to make my own beers, start my own distillery. So I want to go into that specifically, getting my own brand out there, maybe open a pub with the distillery or brewery.”

Photos by Fatima Mian

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