British novelist Virginia Woolf is quoted saying, “one cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ‘Dining well’ is the feeling one gets while digging into scrumptious nyama choma, ugali, and spinach at Francis Wahome’s joint Carwash Sports Bar and Grill.
Nyama choma, a Kenyan delicacy that has become popular across East Africa, is grilled beef, fish and chicken.
In an interview with Society, Francis Wahome, the granddaddy of the Kigali nyama choma business explained how the business is growing tremendously.
“I first came to Rwanda in November 2004 as an accountant for an oil company. However, I discovered that going into business was better than being employed. With some friends, we co-founded the Nyama Choma Restaurant and Bar at Carwash Kimihurura. But I’m the one behind the wheel,” Wahome narrates.
The shy but extremely funny 46-year-old Kenyan, a native of the Laikipia district in the Kenya rift valley, worked with Barclays Bank in Kenya for 12 years.
“My inspiration to explore the nyama choma business was derived from my own personal hunger,” said the witty entrepreneur. “Besides enjoying nyama choma, I discovered that it was an unpopular business here in Rwanda. I used to go to restaurants and everything sold was in large quantity. For example I would order for chicken and be given the whole thing which I could not finish alone.”
At his Kimihurura restaurant, the grilled delicacies are served based on what the client wants. Costs range from Rwf2 500 to 3500 per plate.
“It’s customers who have made my business popular. When one enjoys a meal at a given place, they will always tell their friends about the amazing dish they had,” Wahome disclosed.
He added that given the fact that it was a new business venture, he encountered several challenges but has been able to deal with them for the last eight years.
“This being a new concept, training the staff was a challenge and it took a lot of time. In fact we still do on the job training. The other challenge is moving from one premise to another. For example there was a point when my lease expired and was not renewed, so I had to look for other premises to operate but fortunately I was able to return,” Wahome expressed.
With all the campaigns in Rwanda to promote customer service in restaurants, Wahome does not wait for his employees to attend to customers. He will walk to a table and ask the customer if they’ve been attended to.
“I believe in customer care and I always put myself in the customers’ shoes. When I see a customer not getting the right service, it weighs on me. Therefore, I have the drive to satisfy customers by leading by example. I show my staff that they are not doing anything different from what I do,” said Wahome.
As a child, the jovial Wahome always wanted to be an engineer but naturally, his dreams change.
“At University, I majored in Agricultural Engineering although I ended up working in a bank. However, my vision has not changed since I ventured into entrepreneurship. I always aim at making a brand that is service oriented,” he revealed.
Besides being a businessman, Wahome is a family man who is blessed with a daughter and three sons.
Mary Wanjiru, Wahome’s wife, says that he has succeeded in business because of his determination traits. “Besides being a loving and caring husband, he is strict and always gets what he wants”, she enthuses.