Fine dining, the sustainable way Neil Swart of Galjoen restaurant and Serge Raemaekers of ABALOBI

13 April 2024

Some of the best projects happen almost by accident. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll enjoy what you do at least every second day.

The restaurant industry will keep you humble. In case you don’t believe us, just listen to Neil Swart talk about the journey of building two excellent fine dining restaurants in Cape Town.

To turn this into a full-circle discussion, Serge Raemaekers also joined Neil and The Finance Ghost on this podcast that was recorded at the Galjoen restaurant with the sounds of dinner preparation in the background. Serge is the founder of ABALOBI, a platform that seeks to create a sustainable way for the public to enjoy interesting seafood.

This is an insightful podcast for anyone interested in the restaurant and fishing industries, as well as social enterprise.

Galjoen, Belly of the Beast and the restaurant industry:

  • What is it really like to own a fine dining restaurant and is it anything like the movies / TV series?
  • Do restaurants work better with partners?
  • How important is it to do something you genuinely love doing?
  • The back-story to Galjoen and how the name is intertwined with everything that the restaurant is about.
  • How does a fine dining restaurant differ from a “normal” restaurant?
  • Why is the restaurant industry so difficult for commercial success?
  • The challenges of operating a business that is constantly getting judged by the public and one review away from a potential crisis.


  • The delicate balance in the oceans and what sustainable fishing really means, with ABALOBI’s role as a platform business that brings authenticity to the market.
  • The thinking behind a non-profit structure like the one used at ABALOBI and how it has attracted attention from many international participants in the sustainable fishing industry.
  • The danger of “go green or go home” and the damage this unrealistic approach does to the broader ecosystem and the people who need to make a small-scale living from it. 

You can learn more about how ABALOBI elevates small-scale fisheries through data and technology by visiting the website here.

If you are in Cape Town or planning a trip and you fancy a trip to one of Neil’s restaurants, find out more about Galjoen here or Belly of the Beast here.