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Nowhere to eat as city restaurants close shop

By Faith Kyoumukama
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
A man walks past closed Java Express eatery on City Hall Way, Nairobi, on Tuesday. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Faith Kyoumukama @martkinel  

The government on Sunday, March 22, ordered the closure of all bars and clubs in the country effective midnight to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). 

But despite a related directive that all restaurants and eateries to start serving only take away orders, many restaurants in the Nairobi and in other towns have opted to temporarily close shop. 

 However, a few eateries open for a few hours while others have resorted to home and office deliveries.

An example is the usually busy Branch restaurant in Nairobi’s Kenya Cinema building.

Their menu normally attracts many take-away diners throughout the day, with the peak being lunch hour and evenings. It has remained closed effective Monday, March 23. 

Social distancing

Artcaffe chain of restaurants has shut down most of their branches for walk-ins, but they are doing home deliveries on order.

Another establishment, which is a sister, company to Artcaffe known as Urban Gourment has also closed most of their outlets. 

Known for its popular burgers, the establishment has since stuck to the delivery option on orders only.

A source close to the establishment also confirmed that there have been no layoffs made despite the closure of its various branches. 

Raybells is one of the many eateries in Nyeri town that have closed. PhotoPD/Joseph Kingo’ri

Although Java House has not closed many of their branches just yet, they assured their customers that they are ensuring proper sanitisation takes place from the entry points to the barristers points, where usually customers make their to-go orders.  

In a statement posted on their online social platforms, Java talked of limiting sitting space to adhere to the government’s recommended one-metre social distancing order, with some of their branches operating on restricted hours to allow deep cleaning and sanitisation. 

Speaking to the Travelwise Paul Smith Ceo of Java Group said, “As we navigate this new reality, our main priority is ensuring that our staff and guests are safe.

We have adapted our business to not only comply with the government’s guidelines, but also taken proactive measures to maintain global standards of hygiene for our take away and delivery guests.”

Big Square restaurant is yet another group of restaurants that has not completely closed its outlets, but tare operating on just take away, drive-through and home deliveries. When at the establishment you are not allowed to sit in and dine.

Simbisa Brand Limited that runs Chicken Inn, Creamy Inn, Pizza Inn and the Shark Grill outlet at Westgate has also stuck to take-aways and home delivery options.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is also sticking to the same option across all its branches.

Most five star hotels have also shut down, with a few of their restaurants remaining partly open for their in-house guests that had already checked in before the declaration. 

Five-star facilities such as the Sarova Stanley and Sarova Panafric in accordance with the State directive, are not allowing walk-ins at their facilities.

However, they are serving in- house guests in one of their restaurants through room service if guests opt for the same.

Motorbike deliveries

Since the directive on the measures to help curb the spread, more people have turned to phone apps and online platforms for services.

Glovo General Manager Kenya William Benthall says they have seen a rise in grocery, restaurant and home suppliers’ orders.

“What has shot up the most are grocery supply orders; we have seen the numbers double up in the past two weeks,” he says.

Benthall says Glovo is following strict health precautions also when it comes to their riders.

“We supply them with masks and gloves weekly and we spray the bikes, on a weekly basis,” he added.

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