Owner of the Mozambik Morningside
Monica Jorgensen is the owner of the Mozambik Morningside in Durban, which opened on 5 August 2022.
Monica was raised in a small district in Greenwood Park, Durban, where she spent many Saturday mornings at the Morning Market, shopping with her grandmother. She would tag along learning how to select fresh vegetables while breathing in the smells of fresh coriander and mint leaves. This she says is where her love for preparing great food began.
Establishing a restaurant, Monica explained, has always been her biggest dream. “I’ve been in hospitality, which has always been in my blood, for 25 years in South Africa and in the United Kingdom. My heart’s desire was to open my own restaurant. I chose to be part of the Mozambik Group because it is such a great franchise. I love what the brand stands for; I love the food, and I love the Portuguese culture. So, it was just right up my alley.”
Hard work and dedication
Monica comes from a previously disadvantaged background and from a very young age she had great responsibility. However, she believes that through hard work and dedication anything can be achieved.
“I matriculated in the year 1992 in Durban. My desire was to study hospitality, unfortunately due to financial constraints I was unable to further my studies. I did not let the financial situation get me down. I knew I needed to work to help take care of my family. My sister was still in high school, and my baby brother was just born. My mum was retrenched from her job and was unemployed, and my father was diagnosed with colon cancer.”
Monica worked in many places and excelled at every job, but she yearned for more. One afternoon she decided to make copies of her CV, which she then dropped off at every hotel in the Durban area. The City Lodge Hotel group soon hired her as a hotel receptionist at The Road Lodge Durban. The City Lodge Hotel group paid for her studies in hospitality, which allowed her the opportunity to work and study at the same time.
A decision to work in the United Kingdom resulted in Monica working at The Swan Hotel in Bibury as a front office manager for two years. Monica commented that the knowledge and experience she gained in the United Kingdom, which she brought back to South Africa, helped her tremendously in furthering her career.
Upon returning to South Africa, she worked as the front office manager at The City Lodge Durban. After 15 years of working there she decided that she needed something more.
Man of my dreams
“In the beginning I thought I would never get there, but I have a great husband. In January 2008 I met the man of my dreams, and we were married eight months later. Mikael is my biggest supporter. He supports me and all my ideas, and he’s also living my dream right now. He’s a marine engineer but he’s working with me. So, I am here because he’s also pushed me in a way.”
In addition, says Moncia, the Mozambik family have been a great help. “The franchisor, Brett Michelin, is an absolutely amazing guy. He’s been by my side supporting me all the way and it’s been a great journey.”’
Ups and downs
In opening her business, Monica has faced many challenges and ups and downs. She says, “I overcome all obstacles because of my determination and self confidence in everything I do.”
Her challenges she says include the poor economy, which in common with many other businesses, has hurt her own business. Monica has tried try to overcome this challenge by utilising more social media advertising and by having more entertainment in her restaurant to get more feet through the door.
In addition, she says that as crime has risen, people are afraid to go out at night. Consequently, she has had to up security to make staff and customers feel safer.
Monica’s future goals are to make her current restaurant a great success. And she says, with a smile, “To open a new Mozambik by the year 2024; with Brett Michelin’s assistance, of course.”
To young women, Monica says believe in yourself. “Always be confident in everything that you do. Strive to be the best that you can. Don’t let anybody tell you anything different. You know who you are. You know what you want. Don’t give up on your goals.”
Monica strongly believes in giving back to the community and empowering women through skills development. Through her restaurant she has provided jobs to 14 staff members, most of whom are single mothers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. She has also empowered her staff, including a cleaner who is now the head waitress, by continuous on the job training.
Monica has joined a non-profit organisation called Expose Women that takes care of women who are in the sex industry. “The forgotten people,” she explains, “None of these women, during career day in high school, put up their hand and said I want to be a sex worker. Many of these women in our Morningside area are victims of human trafficking. We aim to build long lasting relations with these ladies, so that one day when they decide to get out of the industry, we are there to assist them.”
In addition, Monica sponsors meal vouchers at the Berea Primary School and St Martins Home For Children. Monica and her staff also prepared lunch and dinner meals for the children at Lakehaven Children’s Home. Monica explains that in her off time she tries to get home as soon as possible to spend time with her two fur babies. “I love my dogs and I look forward to spending time with them around the pool, with a glass of gin and tonic.” Monica also has a passion for gardening and has many succulent plants in her garden, which are her favourite.
“I’m honoured to be part of the KZN Top Business Women 2023. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the Mozambik Group because they’ve nominated me. I’m proud to be here today. I think I’ve worked really hard, and everybody sees that in me. They’re confident in me and I’m very confident in myself.”