‘Savannah Coffee Lounge’ – An African Coffee house to compete with Coffee World Giants, Starbucks and Java.
Have you been to the latest Café that has left Nairobi abuzz? Located on Loita Street, in between Loita House and the Sasini offices it is right opposite the Grand regency parking lot. With its elegant brown leather sofas, a sprawling patio, spacious yet well designed sitting and the African warmth in the soft shades of brown and black, it is indeed, the true taste of coffee from Africa. Welcome to ‘Savannah Coffee Lounge’.
This is the first of many outlets that Sasini Tea and Coffee company is set to run in Nairobi as well as Dubai and London. Sasini is pumping at least Sh100 million in the coffee shops chain in the next 15 months in Nairobi only, where it plans to have three such coffee lounges.
A close friend of mine came across it almost two weeks ago prior to the premier night, but could not tell right away whether it was an upcoming pub (a phenomenon that is quickly taking over most buildings in the city center) or a restaurant. Well, I read the review appearing both in the Daily Nation as well as Business Daily. Curiosity got the better of me at around 6.00pm when, after a rather tiring but finally productive day, I decided to check out the place as well as look at any opportunities available (there are many).
I must say I was more than impressed. Everything about the place was welcoming, the lighting, setup, the sofas mainly and lastly the staff, always smiling and requesting if they could kindly present you with your bill, a far cry from many other restaurants where bills come even before the food, sometimes even demanded. I always ask myself, isn’t a service paid for after use, especially if it’s food.
Well, I just had do, I had to visit their washrooms. Restaurant review experts always advice, you can only tell the true nature of a restaurant/café by their washroom. Well that was very evident, I could eat in there, it was that clean, fresh smell and spacious.
There are however a couple of things I noted which I must say were not so impressive;
a) Their prices – having been to the other cafes that Savanna will be competing with especially one just up the street, I did not expect the price variance to be so wide. I am not sure how many businessmen/women can afford to spend Ksh. 500 on lunch every day, and that is the targeted market segment. An average House coffee mug was going for Ksh.100, snacks at an average of Ksh. 350.
b) Service speed – I suspect they did not anticipate such a huge turnout on the first week, it was evident that the staff was overwhelmed. Had to wait for over 7 minutes before a waiter could look my way for me to request for the Menu. I however noticed that after some time (left just before they closed, at 8.30pm) the staff were suddenly relaxed, walking up to our table and even enquiring on our take on the food.
c) The Music – After reading the business Daily article, I could not wait to hear my rival in African music Collection (I have the whole Putumayo collection plus over 1,000 songs from various other African Artists). Well, my anticipating ears had to contend with highly overplayed blues songs that almost every radio stations here in Kenya only seems to know, (tired songs by an American artist who did a cover version of a great African American singer without even acknowledging him during his acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards).
There was nothing African about the music. I must say, it gave the impression that, either there is no Kenyan/African music good enough to be played at such a venue or, music was not really regarded as an ambience enhancer that could actually dictate whether a client orders another cup of coffee or simply walks out in search for something more homely like the Friday’s pub just up the street (I hear nowadays they even have a live band), but I digress.
I believe these are just initial faux paux that can and will, with time be fixed. However I hope it will be soon because that is what will determine whether Java and Dorman’s diehards will be bought or not.
It is all about enhancing the experience and making it worthwhile.
I hope publishers will take up the challenge of launching their books and holding forums there. I would not hesitate to attend.
I actually envisioned myself performing one of my poems there, it has all the inspiration I could ask for.
This end month, try something new, save up and visit the Savanna Coffee Lounge.
They can be reached on Tel.+254 20 342171