When the first Ocean Basket restaurant opened its doors in 1995, South Africa had just held its first democratic elections. The air was charged with optimism and apprehension. And now, the delicious smell of seafood too. Fats Lazarides, saw an opportunity to create something that customers were calling a restaurant that served delicious affordable seafood. In those days the restaurant included a fresh fish deli. Seafood restaurants were reserved for the upper crust, and a portion of prawns was a real extravagance. But Fats had always been one to swim against the current.
The first Ocean Basket in Menlyn Park Centre, Pretoria was a measly 60 square meters, with just 6 tables. The menu offered only a handful of dishes, including prawns, hake, calamari and Kingklip. That was it. Plus, the landlord imposed restrictions on what could be sold, only one wine and a small selection of soft drinks could be served. In true Ocean Basket spirit, Fats invited customers to bring their own drinks and even their own salads.
Fats was born to serve. He knew every customer by name and would taste their meals himself to ensure that they were delicious. In the kitchen the chefs were cooking up delicious tastes. They would bound out of the kitchen to grab handfuls of lemons and garlic from the deli to use in the preparation of the meals. Soon, Pretoria had fallen in love with this loud, crazy, Mediterranean deli and restaurant.
Fats’ mom, Liza Lazarides, also added a touch of her own special magic to the brand. Today, she can still be seen baking the Baklava and Kataifi desserts in our kitchens, and still continues to make our delicious dips too. Her ethos of serving every single customer with love and passion is still re-iterated in all the crew training.
Today there are over 201 restaurants in 16 countries around the globe. From Dubai to Durban, Nelspruit to Nigeria, you’ll find people who share a love for our delicious seafood, the irresistible creamy lemon sauce, our generosity, commitment to every day value for money and our love of seafood sharing.