RENDEZ-VOUS: “A meeting at an agreed time and place”, so says my dictionary.
And as far as rendezvous go in this city, perhaps not many establishments boast a reputation as big as that of Simba Café. Tucked away inside the Simba Supermarket complex in Kigali’s central business district, the café is nothing but a co-working office space, and if anything, the guys down at The Office, the pioneer co-working facility in Kigali, ought to be scared!
Simba Café is the sort of place that hosts all sorts of people on all sorts of rendezvous: from entrepreneurs, business men, corporates, professionals, brokers and commission agents, to journalists interviewing their news sources.
Walk in at any time during its operational hours (7:00 am-11:00pm) and, first thing, one’s ears will be greeted to a permanent low hum of voices engaged in business-related talk or friendly banter over a light snack.
They do have free wi-fi (of course!), and thanks to this, the man/woman with a lat top is a common sighting here.
Yes, there are people out there who are simply not cut out for the stiff, 8-hour working day at the office under a strict supervisor, and would rather delve into that unfinished report or assignment while sipping on a fruit shake and nibbling on a bite.
Then there are those with “briefcase organizations”, or whose offices are their mobile phones and lap tops –these here are the real “owners” (read core patrons) of Simba Café. However, the centrality of its location also makes Simba Cafe ideal for a quick wind down snack for people driving home after work, especially those with hungry, tantrum-throwing school kids at the back of the car.
The café does an array of light bites like grilled burgers, sandwiches, croissants, pastries, salads, ice cream, and soups.
When I checked in on a Thursday evening, the place was simply jam-packed, both inside, and the outside patio with its cool breeze. Actually, it was a big hustle just locating my contacts, who had to raise their hands above the crowd before we could make contact.
Everybody was hungry, and we agreed it was not the time to bombard the already strained wait staff with hard-to-grasp orders: Once the first person had ordered for plain chips with salad, we all went for that, save for one little girl who insisted on a piece of chicken as well. The chips go for Rwf 1.000, while a soda is at Rwf 500.
The chips came almost piping hot, (who wants stone-cold chips?), and what’s more, the mayonnaise that accompanied it came in generous quantities, with prospects of a refill, not forgetting the white onions, which had the effect of mellowing down on the chips’ crunchiness.
Upon insistence by one of the wait staff, one of us tried the prune juice, which we were told is good for people with bladder infections, while the rest settled for either sodas or orange juice.
Note: Simba Café does not sell alcoholic beverages, a strategy that I thought does more to lend the establishment a family feel than to repel booze-loving clients.