Ceo and Founder of Signature and Wall Street

COUNTRY: South Africa



Desmond Mabuza, born and raised in the relatively poor neighborhood of Soweto, is the only black South African who owns and successfully operates high-end restaurants that serve his country’s rich, famous, politically and socially connected people. After he gives up his career as a civil Engineer.


Born and raised in Soweto, Desmond spent the first fifteen years of his life between his paternal home in Dube and his Maternal home in Orlando West. His childhood memories are rich and happy.

He is the eldest son of Vela Mabuza and the late Dinah Mabuza, From the age of ten he would go to his fathers hardware shop after school to help out and learn to sell and manage stock, he said That’s when his love for business started.

At the age of 15 Desmond left for the US to complete high school. He obtained a BSC degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Business Administration from Marquette University. After graduating he returned to South Africa to start a career in engineering.But after only four years of corporate life the lure of entrepreneurship was too great and he started a business in project management. It was a few years after that that he got involved in what he thought would be a “silent partner”investment opportunity in a restaurant venture called Back of the Moon at Gold Reef City.



Desmond received his civil engineering training in the United States and returned to South Africa before the end of Apartheid to establish a small civil engineering firm.

After a few years, he left his engineering profession and invested his earnings in the fine dining restaurant industry, which only white South Africans were known to dominate and flourish in.

Desmond was unconcerned by his skin color or the massive task that lied before of him, despite his lack of expertise in this field.

He went on to launch his first restaurant in 2001 (when he was 28 years old) and now owns two highly lucrative and well-run restaurants in Johannesburg: Signature and Wall Street.

Desmond Mabuza’s parents encouraged him to pursue a career in engineering, but he had no clue that just a few years later, he’d give up engineering for a job in hospitality. Felicia, his cousin, was instrumental in helping him realize his love for the better things in life.

Back O’ The Moon, their first jazz-inspired restaurant, launched at Gold Reef City Casino in 2001. Desmond’s engineering experience aided the development of this establishment from the beginning. He sold his stakes in his engineering business when she contacted him with a full-time chance as a partner. He was an engineer by day and a restaurateur at night. Desmond made the decision to go out on his own not long after that. He saw a gap in the market for eateries that checked all the boxes and decided to fill it.

One of the most exciting methods to come up with fantastic company ideas is to recognize a need in your environment and figure out how to meet it. This is how Desmond came up with the idea for his restaurant and became so successful with it. Let’s look at his market’s opportunity and how he took advantage of it.
Desmond Johannesburg, sometimes known as Mabuza, is the provincial capital of Gauteng, South Africa’s wealthiest province, with the greatest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is South Africa’s economic and financial core, as well as one of the world’s main financial centers, accounting for up to 20% of the country’s GDP.

Given his lack of experience in setting up a restaurant business, many critics may have doubted his ability to create success.But he says his background in civil engineering has been an invaluable asset.

“[In engineering] you’re paying attention to detail, the overall project planning, being objective, processes. “A lot of that training has come in handy for me in terms of how I implement and go about my daily business.”

Now with a second restaurant and close to 100 employees, he says the business is in good financial shape. “We are continuously full which is a good way of knowing you are doing something right because the people will always vote and they vote by coming to your restaurant.”

Eleven years on and Mr. Mabuza says his restaurants have become regular recipients of praise from food critics. “Both, in a very short space of time, have earned themselves quite an immense reputation in terms of awards and accolades in the industry.” He is now mapping out his plans and hopes to build his brand across the continent by building new restaurants in key markets such as Ghana, Kenya, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Less than a year from its opening, the restaurant won the Best of Johannesburg’s Readers Choice Award and many others. It won the Platinum Diners Club Wine List Award 2009 and 2010; the Diamond Diners Club Wine List Award 2011 and 2012; and the Best New Restaurant Award 2009. He Got the Diners Club Wine List Awards 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, Best of Joburg – Best New Restaurant – 2009


There are no certain publications or information that talks about Desmond Mabuza’s Networth.


(BBC, Smallstarter)

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