A Thriving Kenyan Restaurant in America


Just imagine visiting a foreign country and finding a restaurant that serves your favorite Kenyan food. This is what ‘sahani’ has cut a niche for itself in the state of Alabama.

Run by David Kimani , a Kenyan originally from Kiambu , ‘Sahani’ serves authentic Kenyan dishes like samosas ,nyama choma,and chapati to the wider community of Birmingham.

David Kimani was born in Kenya and moved with his parents to America when he was 4 years old. He grew up and schooled in America and on Sunday afternoons his dad would grill for him and his siblings ‘nyama choma’ which would give him nostalgia.

This gave him an idea to establish a restaurant that serves Kenyan dishes and named it ‘Sahani’ which means plate in kiswahili .

He initially wanted to start a brick-and-mortar restaurant then Covid happened which put his plans on hold till May 2021 where he leased a food truck and opened the business.

Kimani prefers a mobile truck over a brick-and-mortar restaurant because of its mobility as with the latter, one relies on people visiting your premises while with the food truck you can go where the customers are in different locations.

Kimani is a hardworker as he runs the restaurant in a mobile food truck and opens 6 days a week until 2 am. They serve finger foods at night to cater to club revelers coming from partying while on Sunday afternoons they serve main meals like ‘nyama choma’ ,matumbo, mukimo to worshippers outside churches after service.

Sahani is now a family-owned restaurant where various family members play different roles in running the business such as coming up with menu, branding and marketing, and food preparation.

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Kimani states that one of the main challenges in starting and running a food business in America is the difficulty of acquiring all the different licenses required.

America is very strict when it comes to a running a restaurant business to the point that if you run a food truck, you are not allowed preparing food at home or in the mobile truck.

By law ,you have to prepare your meals in a commercial kitchen known as commissary which you have to lease space in.

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