Bye bye Madame Zingara, bye bye Carlucci’s

With shock I read in the newspaper today about the impending liquidation of Madame Zingara and Carlucci’s. The article is available online here.

I don’t understand how Madame Zingara can be in financial trouble. That tent, which seated about 450 people was always full and average spend must have been about R500 per head. I’ll leave you to work out how much money that is per night. Very strange indeed. As far as I’m aware, the show is still running in London.

Carlucci’s has been around for ages in Oranjezicht and Bantry Bay, and recently opened one in Rondebosch and another in Roeland Street. They seem to have a good thing going on. If they are in trouble, how many other places are in trouble?

I guess the global economic crisis is taking its toll after all. I don’t understand how people can be opening new restaurants left, right and centre. Just look at my newsletters each month to see how many there are. When I see big names like Zingara and Carlucci’s going down, I would think twice about getting into the restaurant industry.


  1. Tracy January 28, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Just saw the TO LET signs up in Carlucci’s in Rondebosch.

  2. Grant January 29, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I remember the announcement made at Zingara’s about how much they have given to charity. I can’t remember what the exact amount was but it was HUGE… I do recall doing a quick sum in my head though and wondering “How the $%&£ can they afford to give all that money away and still pay all their staff?”

    Question answered I suppose

  3. Dax January 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Charity begins at home…

  4. smith January 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

    what you dont know is that MZ recently bought a 2nd tent for cape town and a 3rd tent for london, I think the expantion to london broke them, expecially now since the brits arent going to be spending on entertainment

  5. Dax January 29, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Yes, I heard about a new tent called Mojolenas. I was going to mention it in my next newsletter after finding out more info.

    It’s not on as grand a scale as the Tent of Dreams. The menu is a la carte and the show is mainly the big singing ladies with a couple of other acts.

    I haven’t heard any positive feedback, general impression was that it’s ok unless you’ve been to the Tent of Dreams because it doesn’t come close.

  6. Tracey February 8, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Mojolenas is on a smaller scale but still a thoroughly amazing evening ! Sad we’re losing this stunning experience 🙁

  7. Helena February 14, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I live several metres from Carlucci’s in Roeland street and I’m not surprised to hear they’ve gone into liquidation. The fridges and shelves have always been half-stocked, the staff sulky and the general atmosphere downright dismal. In times like these business simply have to try harder or sink. Good riddance.

  8. Bruce February 27, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    I live in Oranjezicht, and since the day Carlucci’s changed hands and the two new stores opened it all went down hill…and in record time too. Half-stocked, crap food, HORRENDOUS service and sulky surly staff (Helena is spot on). Every visit was a lesson in temper control until I vowed to never return (and I used to shop there 3 or 4 times a week!). It has absolutely nothing to do with the economic crisis. I only hope that something opens in Oranjezicht to serve the once-loyal crowd.

  9. Kelly March 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Well, just think what the overheads must have been like. It is a pity they decided to expand to the UK, in the current economic climate that was probably their downfall. Having said that, it was reported (how accurately is the question) that there was outstanding rent from their lease starting in Dec 2007 – so was MZ in trouble for a long time? Its possible. A great and novel idea where someone dared to dreamed big, but perhaps too big. It is sad that this has come to an end, but will certainly be remembered by all as something very special.

  10. Jules March 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Don’t feel too sorry for MZ – they just liquidated in SA, and as Grant pointed out, gave themselves a massive tax break with a big donation to charity. All that means is that they have no local debts holding them back as they expand into Europe with fresh funding and a UK trading license…

    Just speculation on my part, but its a practical business strategy nonetheless.

  11. Dax March 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I actually chatted to someone a little closer to the situation and he tells me that it’s Europe that killed them. Their financial backer pulled out and they were left not only with no funding, but no visas.

    Also, economic crisis kicked in and the £85 tickets weren’t selling despite the rave reviews.