Freddie's Corner

IRONY

A good business for an italian in Malindi: restaurant owner

Tips to earn a little and to eat a lot in Kenya

29-03-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo

Italians have not been heroes or navigators for many years now, but the passion for cooking and for the table will never abandon them.
So often the dream of those who leave the land of pizza and spaghetti, is to export their culinary habits to their country of arrival.
It's impossible to imagine an Italian colony abroad without reference restaurants, often with a regional character.
This is what happened in Malindi.
Since the first settlements of fellow citizens in the eighties, some lovers of good food and the Mediterranean gastronomic tradition have made their way into this strategic sector.
First came a Tuscan captain of fortune who, however, not knowing how to cook even a fried egg, preferred to open an Italian ice-cream parlour, dedicating himself to a speciality that is very much appreciated in a hot country.
Encouraged by the growth of the Italian community, the same sea dog also opened a trattoria and started the birth of a real chain: in fact, convinced that you couldn't do any worse than Tuscan, the first professionals arrived: a former swimming champion who transformed his house into an elite restaurant, and a Neapolitan accountant who gave up his tax returns in exchange for a wood-burning oven and instant declarations of love to the local beauties, just to give two examples.
Pizza was easy, in fact: in the eighties, there was only one place that sang the praises of the Neapolitan specialty on its sign, but it ended up in the hands of the English and churned out one of the worst "margheritas" in Africa.
From these forerunners of Malindsian catering, we can now learn a great lesson: the important thing is to give your restaurant a precise initial appearance and, if possible, never change its name. But you can do better: some of the most renowned restaurants in Malindi have never even changed their menu.
In the choice of the name, we suggest a bath of fantasy and a touch of originality: for example you can call a bar simply "bar", but also doubling it, or call a place located in the fishermen's area with the name of a vegetable. Or find, among all the possible Neapolitan names for a pizzeria, the one that most resembles a Swahili word. How about "Putipù"? Many locals are still convinced that it means "spit" in the Kenyan language. It is actually a traditional Neapolitan instrument.
Today in Malindi there are few historic kitchens left, there is less than one restaurant per person, but it is possible to take over one of the many businesses for sale to compete with them. Without of course wondering why they are for sale.
But no, jumping on food is a safe choice. That's perhaps why buffets abound, at ever-lower prices. Only on Sundays, because the story goes that some retirees eat until they're sick for 1,000 shillings, and then spend the rest of the week drinking tea and pineapple juice.
Then, be sure to follow the fashions: in Malindi it is essential. If it's the year of "fusion", open a fusion restaurant and if you don't know what to cook, at most mix rice pilau with sushi, or stuff samosas with lasagna Bolognese. If, on the other hand, it's the year of the lounge, put the word "lounge" to your venue, and maybe even buy a couch. Then you can give to drink tusker and cocacola like everyone else, but you want to put?
In short, with the restaurants in Malindi you can earn for sure.
Just enough time for dinner...

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