The new normal in Kenyan Restaurants- take out/ home delivery in the era of Covid 19

Restaurants have been part and parcel of our community. They were and have always been social outlets where couples enjoy date nights, families go out for Sunday brunch, and friends gather around for banter and catching up. But then came Covid-19 and things changed, with the industry bearing the brunt as dining in literally stopped largely because of the Government imposed COVID- 19 restrictions.  In order to survive the harsh economic onslaught brought about by this pandemic while still staying afloat, restaurants have had to look for alternative new measures which include take outs/ home delivery.

One restaurant we visited for this piece, that has quickly adapted to the new normal, and now offering online food delivery and take away service, is Mawimbi seafood restaurant and cafe, a fine dining seafood establishment located on the corner of Harry Thuku Road and Kijabe Street, Nairobi. One of the very first measures this establishment took is they appointed one of their own to be responsible for the enforcement of the Ministry of Health (MoH) measures in their premises, says Cecilia Kamau, the General Manager. All employees have also been trained and continue to be trained in social distancing, personal hygiene and protection measures to limit their risk of contracting COVID- 19 both within and outside of the workplace. They don masks at all times. Carlos Andres Espindola, the head chef at Mawimbi seafood restaurant and cafe, took us on a tour of the kitchen to see how food is prepared and ready for packaging and take away, amidst all the measures they have taken to ensure they are Covid 19 compliant.

I must point out that we noticed strict measures taken when storing the different types of proteins, all done separately with utmost care. Beef, and sea food are all stored in totally different units while the vegetables too, are not lumped together. They are all sorted and stored in different units in the kitchen. There are different stations for preparing and handling raw and cooked items including utensils for each. Mawimbi seafood restaurant and cafe menu includes among other culinary delights, fresh fish, seafood and sushi.

You will be glad to note that when you place an order online either on the various food apps or on the Mawimbi restaurant website, the measures the restaurant has taken in food preparation is in line with ministry of Health guidelines (utmost care). Carlos Andres Espindola, the head chef says, all members of his kitchen staff, must have their temperatures checked on a daily, and sanitize before wearing their uniforms which have been sanitized. Before coming into contact with any food when prepping for a request, they wash their hands with soap and clean water thoroughly before and after handling different types of raw ingredients to avoid contamination and to maintain sanitary conditions. In addition, Ms Kamau, the General Manager tells us that all members of staff have received the Covid-19 vaccine.

After every meal handling and preparation, they wash their hands with clean water and soap, sanitize and put on a fresh pair of gloves. The chefs also change their masks every One hour and sometimes, as often as they possibly can once the mask becomes dump because of the temperatures in the kitchen.  In addition, they also have food-grade disinfectants. 

The restaurant uses 100% biodegradable paper napkins and boxes or made of from cardboard, which are preferred over metal and plastic, as the virus lives longer on non-porous surface. When the delivery person who is picking your food order arrives, the security guard will check his/ her temperature and if cleared, then he will first go through a sanitization booth before entering the establishment. He or she must be wearing a mask. It is mandatory. You will notice proper and clear up-to-date notices of the establishment and Ministry of Health social distancing and health guidelines clearly within the premises, clearly spelt out.

The restaurant has enough hand washing stations with running water and soap and hand sanitizers. It also has a receiving area where the delivery person/s wait, with sufficient space to allow and maintain physical distance between the staff and people making the deliveries. The delivery person/s pick up their orders one at a time in order to facilitate physical distancing.

On Wednesday April 21st 2021, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala launched the vaccination drive of the Hospitality and Tourism sector frontliners at KICC, Nairobi. The initiative is geared towards vaccinating all the Hospitality and Tourism frontliners in all the 47 counties, in a bid to restart the tourism industry.

Let’s support the industry by continuing to order online/ take away deliveries to help your favorite local establishments stay afloat. You are encouraged to place your order directly from the restaurants.

Please note the featured restaurant in this article, just like the rest, is open only for take away (online food delivery) as stipulated by the Govt of Kenya.

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