Pre­sen­ter Lorna Maseko is be­ing sued for fail­ing to pay for a res­tau­rant she bought

CityPress - - Front Page - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

Top Billing pre­sen­ter and busi­ness­woman Lorna Maseko has burnt her fin­gers in busi­ness – she al­legedly owes more than R700 000 for her Sand­ton res­tau­rant, The Bread Basket. And now the TV per­son­al­ity’s com­pany, Fab­u­lous Pro­duc­tions, has been dragged to the Johannesburg South Gaut­eng High Court by the res­tau­rant’s pre­vi­ous owner.

Fab­u­lous Pro­duc­tions and Tubalix (Pty) Ltd, trad­ing as Bread Basket, will square up in court next month af­ter the for­mer owner filed pa­pers against Maseko in May, su­ing her for breach­ing their agree­ment by fail­ing to pay the pur­chase price.

Maseko, who is a close friend of Bo­nang Matheba, signed an agree­ment with the pre­vi­ous own­ers in Novem­ber last year. Her res­tau­rant in the pop­u­lar Morn­ing­side Shop­ping Cen­tre was launched in De­cem­ber amid much fan­fare.

The res­tau­rant counts among its pa­trons Maseko’s pop­u­lar celebrity friends and busi­ness­peo­ple, in­clud­ing model Ba­balwa Mneno. The Bread Basket’s founder Christina Avraamides, who opened the first bak­ery in the chain in 1982 with her hus­band Ado­nis, also vis­ited Maseko at the res­tau­rant ear­lier this year to wish her the best. The Bread Basket fran­chise now be­longs to Fa­mous Brands.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, Maseko breached the agree­ment with the pre­vi­ous owner by fail­ing to pay the full pur­chase price of just over R745 000 and, the com­pany says, she owes them the money.

In May, Tubalix served sum­mons on Maseko but she did not pay the com­pany and con­tin­ued with busi­ness as usual.

This week, when City Press con­tacted Maseko, she did not deny ow­ing the com­pany R745 000 and said she was aware of the amount. She said the mat­ter was sub ju­dice and de­clined to com­ment fur­ther. Maseko re­ferred City Press to her pub­li­cist Simphiwe Ma­jola.

Ma­jola de­clined to com­ment on the mer­its of the case, but did say Maseko was forg­ing ahead with her food ca­reer.

“Lorna is cur­rently fo­cus­ing on her cook­book to be launched early next year. She’s also work­ing on her mer­chan­dise and Cook­ing with Lorna and Friends events,” Ma­jola said.

“She is also record­ing her YouTube chan­nel next week as well as im­prov­ing her res­tau­rant.”

How­ever, a source close to the sit­u­a­tion told City Press that Maseko’s foray into the food busi­ness had been an up­hill bat­tle. The source also said that had Maseko had all the in­for­ma­tion at her dis­posal about the state the busi­ness was in be­fore she bought it in the first place, she wouldn’t be in this mess.

“When Lorna oc­cu­pied the res­tau­rant the ma­chines were bro­ken. Lorna would not have been in this mess if she had known. Lorna spent most of the money that she would have paid them,” the source said.

“She took over the res­tau­rant in De­cem­ber last year and only dis­closed her prob­lems with it re­cently. A lot of work had to be done in the res­tau­rant.”

The source said she felt sorry for Maseko be­cause she was one of a few young black women who were try­ing to ven­ture into the fran­chise busi­ness.

“In­stead of laugh­ing at her, as black peo­ple we must help her to be a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur,” the source added.

Maseko has al­ways had a pas­sion for food. She has been a con­tes­tant on Celebrity MasterChef and had a 13-episode cook­ing show on SABC3 called The Host­ess with Lorna Maseko.

Open­ing a res­tau­rant was al­ways the for­mer bal­let dancer’s dream. And it ap­pears that she is deter­mined to make a go of it.

This week, Maseko hosted a me­dia Cham­pagne break­fast in her res­tau­rant, and wrote on her In­sta­gram page:

“One of the big­gest lessons I’ve learnt about be­ing in the res­tau­rant busi­ness is that you want to be be­hind some­thing you’re proud of. Months in the mak­ing but what a ride to own The Bread Basket.”

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS For­mer bal­le­rina Lorna Maseko is fac­ing a court bat­tle over R750 000

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