This fast-food empire started in a garage in Mbombela – its latest store just opened in Fiji

Gallitos South Africa in Fiji

(Facebook, Gallito’s)

  • Galito’s, a fast-food outlet specializing in Portuguese-style flame-grilled chicken, was founded by Louis Germishuys in Mbombela in 1996.
  • Germishuys started by perfecting his recipes for sauces and marinades in his father’s garage.
  • Today, Galito’s has spread to more than 17 countries, with its latest franchise recently opened on the island nation of Fiji.
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A fast-food restaurant chain that started in Mbombela 26 years ago has spread to more than 17 countries, with its latest franchise store recently opening on the island nation of Fiji.

A passion for Portuguese cuisine, inspired at a young age by regular trips to Mozambique and hands-on experience with South Africa’s top flame-grilled chicken franchise, evoked Louis Germishuys’ entrepreneurial spirit.

Although Germishuys studied at the Wits Hotel School, it was his stay in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, while working as an airline loadmaster, that ultimately set the wheels in motion. South Africa’s first Nando’s franchise opened in Rosettenville. Seeing how popular this store became inspired Germishuys to quit his job at the airline and open his own Nando’s franchise in his hometown of Mbombela, then known as Nelspruit.

But when Nando’s listed and bought out some of the franchisees, Germishuys decided to go it alone.

“That’s when I decided to do my own thing,” said Germishuys of the genesis of Galito’s flame-grilled chicken.

“I moved my dad’s car out of the garage to perfect my marinades and grilled chicken there and opened that first store within eight months. Looking back, I was a very cocky 20-something. But I was also confident in my creation and willing to work hard.”

Galitos’ global expansion started in 2010, 14 years after the first restaurant was founded, with the franchise picked up in Toronto, Canada, after having already made its mark in Kenya and Ghana. Galito’s has since expanded into the US, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, India, and Kazakhstan, among others, with 149 stores globally.

The central kitchen in Mbombela still creates every sauce and marinade sent to Galito’s stores across the world.

Galitos’ latest store opened in Fiji, more than 14,000 kilometers from where the franchise first started, on 11 May. Located on Main Street in Nadi on the western side of Fiji, this Galito’s store features a menu that’s familiar to South Africans, with a range of sauces also available to purchase.

Galitos’ global expansion is not over yet, according to Germishuys, with plans for franchise stores in Bangladesh and Malaysia next in line. And despite having reached almost all corners of the globe, world domination has never been Germishuys’ grand vision.

“It’s certainly a highlight and something of which I’m very proud,” said Germishuys.

“I’m amazed that our small brand from Mpumalanga has managed to do so well in such varied markets. But my vision is to remain accessible to everyone, from businessmen to the guys in overalls off the street.”

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