Johannesburg - 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.”