Durban - A newly opened pizzeria in the popular Florida Road strip credited its successful launch to stoking the flames of public interest after going viral on TikTok.
Luke Silver and Michael Benson are the co-owners of Fired Up, an artisanal wood-fire pizzeria in Florida Road that opened last Wednesday.
The pair recorded the journey of transforming a garage into the restaurant and took the public along for the ride by posting it on social media.
The viral TikTok videos culminated in a successful launch, with travellers and influencers converging for a slice.
Silver said the response was humbling.
“We always wanted to do a series documenting everything and we posted it to social media so people could come along. We didn’t do it to try and sell our pizzas, we wanted to show that we had a dream and we were fighting for it,” he said.
But Silver believed TikTok was a wild card as they didn’t know how it would be received, but knew that other platforms wouldn’t be as successful if the gamble paid off.
Benson said they had patrons coming as far as Pretoria.
“They said the moment they arrived in Durban they had to find us. They saw our TikToks and wanted to support us which felt incredible. We always worked for other people and decided to take the risk and become our own bosses so to get love for our dreams is indescribable,” Benson said.
Silver said this made all of the sleepless nights and 16 hour shifts worth it.
Their videos have hundreds of thousands of views, with stacks of comments most of which are positive but with the occasional negative comment entering the mix.
“Most people are encouraging and have even said they are thinking about pursuing their passions but we have had a few people who have outright said we will fail or hope we fail, but our response will be our success,” said Silver.
It had been a dream one year in the making and after securing the site they began clearing it out and renovating.
“We did it all and were hands-on throughout, from carrying bricks and blocks for the walls to painting them, building the wood-fire oven and staining the wood for our entrance. We still have more to do. We are on a learning curve,” said Silver.
Benson said the last year was a nightmare due to Covid-19 and knew businesses suffered, but they knew that they had to follow their dream.
This week Statistics SA released its latest data on liquidations which showed that small, medium and micro enterprises were hit the hardest.
Data showed that 216 companies were liquidated in March, compared to 178 in February – a jump of 21% and 49% higher than in March last year. Overall, the total number of liquidations increased by 18.9% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020.