A few months ago, I found myself seated at a restaurant, a few kilometres off Nakuru town. I was trying to get away for the day and just breathe. The week had been difficult and most of you can attest to the fact that Thursdays are brilliantly slow. Coming to think of it, Thursday shouldn’t even be included in the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday…… see, you didn’t even miss it!)
Where was I?
Noon finds me at this hotel my old man and I used to go to when I was a kid, back when Picana Mango was the drink. I get myself a table in one of the restaurants on the ground floor and plug in, naturally. It smells strongly of ash and wood. Over the years, it seems the management has never really found need to have any re-construction done. The waiters here still wear bowties and those checked half- coats in that scathing red and green pattern. Through the window, I can see the hotel’s parking lot with a few cars sitting in the heat. Even the trees have grown weary; leaves shedding and barks breaking. Not exactly picturesque, but for Thursday, it’ll have to suffice.
One of the waiters returns with my order. The coffee is trying too hard to seem/taste/feel like coffee, but that’s common with places that aren’t really coffee houses. The food, however, is pretty good. It reminds me why my family and I used to come down here every Sunday. The food, was always authentic (you can say that about food right? Authentic?)
Hence my current predicament.
I have mentioned before on this platform that I eat out a lot. However, there aren’t many places to eat out which sees me frequent the same joints. So much so, I know a couple of waiters by name (or face at least)
For example, (when was the last time you used that in a statement?)
Sunday afternoons find me at a spot called Orbit. (typing that now makes it seem like some dead end night club people used to visit when orbit was still a thing). Orbit is an eatery that serves the best passion juice in town. I say that because that’s what I have every Sunday afternoon. Yes, I am a creature of habit. They serve a mean plate of bhajia too which also, accompanies my juice.
Now to the matter at hand.
I had always wondered why this place enjoys so much business and still retains its standards after all these years.
I decided to spend 2 weeks and a significant amount of money carrying out research on these eateries that aren’t large enough to be restaurants and are too crowded to be cafes and have settled for the less flattering term; parlours.
Research here basically refers to eating at such points for a minimum of two weeks to have a full ‘understanding’ of its operations. Vous avez comprenez?
Being a not-so-large town, there are only so many restaurants you can go to. The restaurants that do enjoy this monopoly often take this opportunity to render bad service and make a killing on being so darn expensive for nothing.
Most of the time, these restaurants start off well. Serving amazing food and attracting the right clientele, you know, the magic that comes with a new place. Through the progression of time, sadly, whatever attracted you to the restaurant slowly disappears. Services is no longer top-notch, food is bland and the magic evaporates. Unfortunately, you aren’t really able to leave and never come back again because there aren’t that many places to go to.
Hence the experiment I conducted. (if we happened to have lunch together during the past two weeks, you were part of the experiment)
During those two weeks, I crisscrossed the town to enjoy what these joints have to offer and of course learnt a thing or two.
- Places like these are located all over due to a vast population of university students in various town campuses. The offer is a quick meal/snack that gets you going for the better part of the day.
- The food is fairly cheap since most of the owners here are first time business people who are just trying to make an honest living out here.
- Despite the pricing and all, the food is rather decent. Well, it’s not ArtCaffe or Java but then again, how often do you go to Java anyway? (don’t answer that).
What I really liked about these places was the authenticity. The people in these businesses really want to give you food worth your money and ensure you come back the next time. These joints, like the old hotel I visited, had remained true to their craft which ascertained that they never run out of business.
Unfortunately, some of these places remain the same for years on end without ever really growing or becoming a chain. The customers move on and their business strategies aren’t so elaborate.
There is a need therefore, for quality service and ‘product’ in the food and restaurant business altogether.
Like I keep saying, eating is expensive. Finding good places to eat at a reasonable price is the trick we all need to survive.
Admittedly, ‘parlours’ are an upgrade from your kawa mwituu place and your moto mayai guy.
Switch up your local base to an eatery once in a while and expose your palate to some new stuff.
Also leave your comments below on what you think about these eateries and restaurants as well.
In other news
I’d like to give a S/O to Kentucky Fried Chicken (gives full name for those guys playing Logo Quiz) * for realizing that I need them in my life. Construction is underway at the Westside Mall and I’m waiting for that opening. (Yes, this is big news for me).
Also, I can’t wait to see you at our first ever festival ‘The Meat and Greet’ on the 20th of August starting 2pm. More information will be on posters on our social media pages. Find links right after the comment box.
Your taste bud