Choosing Restaurant Style in Kenya

Restaurants are classified into three primary categories: quick-service, midscale and upscale. Your choice of restaurant style in Kenya will ultimately determine the kind of strategy that will guide your business. Quick-service restaurants are also known as fast-food restaurants. These establishments offer limited menus of items that are prepared quickly and sold for a relatively low price. In addition to very casual dining areas, they typically offer drive-thru windows and take-out service.

Restaurants are classified into three primary categories: quick-service, midscale and upscale.

When people think of fast-food restaurants, they often think of chicken and chips, but establishments in this category also serve fish, hot dogs, sandwiches, pies, kebabs, sausages and other foods. Fast-food restaurant style in Kenya is popular especially in busy centers such as high traffic streets and shopping centres.

Midscale restaurants, as the name implies, occupy the middle ground between quick-service and upscale restaurants. They offer full meals but charge prices that customers perceive as providing good value. Midscale restaurants offer a range of limited- and full-service options. In a full-service restaurant, patrons place and receive their orders at their tables; in a limited-service operation, patrons order their food at a counter and then receive their meals at their tables. Many limited-service restaurants offer conventional lunch/dinner menus.

Upscale restaurants offer full table service and do not necessarily promote their meals as offering great value; instead, they focus on the quality of their cuisine and the ambience of their facilities. Fine-dining establishments are at the highest end of the upscale restaurant category and charge the highest prices.

In Kenya, a restaurant style will in one way or the other give indications on the average food costs and the kind of service to be expected.

Selecting a restaurant style in Kenya

Restaurant patrons want to be delighted with their dining experience, but they don’t necessarily want to be surprised. In Kenya, a restaurant style will in one way or the other give indications on the average food costs and the kind of service to be expected.  Concepts give restaurateurs a way to let patrons know in advance what to expect and also to provide some structure for their operation. Here are some of the more popular restaurant concepts:

Chicken and Chips.

Quick-service chicken and chips (“kuku sama”) restaurants generally offer a limited range of choices, often restricted to deep fried chicken and chips. The prices of food in these restaurants do not vary very much as the product is basically the same. When looking to start a fast food restaurant, it’s critical to get a high traffic location and reliable supply of essentials such as chicken and potatoes.

When looking to start a fast food restaurant, it’s critical to get a high traffic location and reliable supply of essentials such as chicken and potatoes.

Casual-dining restaurants.

These establishments appeal to a wide audience, ranging from members of Generation Y to Generation X to baby boomers with families to seniors, and they provide a variety of food items, from appetizers and salads to main dishes and desserts. Casual-dining restaurants offer comfortable atmospheres with mid-range prices. Many center on a theme that’s incorporated into their menus and décor.

Ethnic restaurants.

Ethnic restaurants enjoy a significant share of the Kenyan restaurant market. They range from quick-service places with limited selections to upscale eateries with a wide variety of menu items. The three most popular kinds of ethnic restaurants are Italian, Chinese and Mexican. Other popular ethnic restaurant types include Indian, Thai, and Japanese.

Recent trends in Nairobi indicates an upsurge in “Traditional Restaurants” that specialize in food from a specific community e.g Somali dishes, Kikuyu traditional foods, Kisii vegetables etc

Pizzeria.

You have two primary choices when entering starting a pizzeria. One is a to-go restaurant in a modest facility with a specialized menu highlighted by pizza and soft drinks, limited seating and a self-service atmosphere. The other is a full-service pizza restaurant with a menu that features not only a variety of pizzas, beer and wine, but also Italian entrees like spaghetti, ravioli and lasagna, side dishes such as salads (or even a salad bar), and a few desserts. The foundation of a pizzeria is, of course, the pizza. If you don’t know how to make a good pizza, hire a good pizza cook who does. Invest in top-quality ingredients and preparation methods, and make every pizza as if you’re going to eat it yourself. Do that, and your customers will keep coming back for more.

Coffeehouse.

With more than 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. The coffeehouse restaurant style in Kenya is rapidly picking up as more middle class Kenyans have started to indulge in coffee. But beyond the beverage itself, people frequent coffeehouses and espresso bars for a variety of reasons: to meet with friends, for a quick lunch and a drink to perk up the afternoon, or simply to start off each morning with a great cup of coffee to start off each morning.

The coffeehouse restaurant style in Kenya is rapidly picking up as more middle class Kenyans have started to indulge in coffee.

Most successful coffeehouses have heavy foot traffic and high-volume sales. Profit margins for coffee and espresso drinks are extremely high–after all, you’re dealing with a product that’s more than 95 percent water. Besides specialty roasted coffee by the cup, most coffeehouses also have espresso-based drinks (cappuccinos, lattes, etc.), assorted teas, bottled water and fruit juices, along with an inviting assortment of baked goods, a selection of desserts, and coffee beans by the pound.

(To read the introduction to this series, please check  “Starting a restaurant business in Kenya”)



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