Craig McKenzie is the Founder and ex-CEO of Debonairs Pizza. Debonairs is the leading pizza brand on the African continent and has grown to more than 500 outlets. He is a serial entrepreneur who was previously involved in many of the Famous Brands entities
McKenzie was a 23-year-old, second year BSc Agric student at UKZN campus when he and then partner Andrew Harvey founded the award-winning Debonairs Pizza in 1991.
He came up with the idea on a gap-year trip to Los Angeles. On his return to South Africa, after much planning and amid major scepticism, he and Harvey kicked mom and dads car out the garage and started making pizza after hours in Pietermaritzburg.
In the beginning Debonairs had benefited from the support of young, energetic and good looking drivers, to the extent some women customers would only order if the pizza was delivered by a specific driver in “bow-tie".
From the garage they moved into the back of a bakery, and the very first outlet was in Pietermaritzburg, followed by Umhlanga and then Durban
The growth of the chain was unheard of in the South African business world, with the opening, at one stage, of up to one store a week. Debonairs is now owned by Famous Brands.