- Over the last two years, the local hospitality industry has undergone a revolution of some sort.
- In the hospitality sector where delivering food at the right time and in the right condition is as equally important as cooking it right, working from home has turned out to be a hurdle.
Over the last two years, the local hospitality industry has undergone a revolution of some sort. Gone are the days when to get a decent meal, one had to book a reservation in a hotel.
Today, that five-star food is only a dial away, thanks to the hundreds of food businesses spawned by professional chefs forced out of employment by the Covid pandemic.
As the government kept a tight leash on hotels and restaurants operations for the better part of the last two years, these individuals quickly adapted and made a name for themselves by going online to give customers the all-enviable hotel experience.
Business has been good, but as with most ventures, the growth has meant that these chefs, who have mostly been working from home, need a bigger space and better equipment to process the increasingly complex orders.
In the hospitality sector where delivering food at the right time and in the right condition is as equally important as cooking it right, working from home has turned out to be a hurdle.
The growth of these chef businesses has caught the attention of an investor that is now offering commercial kitchens for hire in Nairobi.
Kitchens For You begins operations this Wednesday on the ground floor of Timau Plaza, Argwings Kodhek Road.
Its co-founder Nassra Abass says the business based on the cloud kitchen model aims to help chefs and other food professionals who want to diversify their locations. Established restaurants too, she notes, can also take advantage of the kitchens to process big orders.
"Our kitchens have a modern design, are spacious and ideal for large-scale production," Nassra points out.
The firm has set up six well-equipped kitchens at the Argwings Kodhek Road address in the pilot phase to test the appetite the local market.
Nassra says with preliminary research indicating some latent demand, they are confident they will soon go into the growth phase. And it is easy to see why.
Mr Lesiamon Sempele, an executive chef estimates it can cost up to Sh25 million to set up a quality commercial kitchen. And that is before factoring in other costs such as licence fees, and utility charges.
"Not so many people have that kind of money," Mr Sempele is quoted in a previous interview with this newspaper paper.
Kitchens For You saves the chefs from having to incur the huge financial outlay by providing the facilities on a rent and lease basis.
They are equipped with commercial stoves, ovens, sinks, refrigerators, tables, dry and cold storage, and other food preparation equipment.
“Our site offers clients with kitchens at affordable rates for both short and long-term leases, ” says Ms Nassra adding that the spaces allow clients to quickly launch new locations and grow at a fraction of the investment required of traditional brick and mortar.
To ensure that clients' operations run smoothly, Kitchens For You has segmented time into four-hour slots. A prospective client logs into the firm's online platform, books their preferred slot, pays via mobile money and is then set to cook, pack, and deliver their food.
“We will provide you with staff lockers, waste management, dispatch area, dry, cold, and frozen storage areas, cleaning, and all that is needed in a kitchen.”
"The user shall procure and maintain the appropriate food service licensing (food handler’s certificate) from the Nairobi County government. A copy of the certificates must be provided before use of, the kitchen space for the reserved time," reads a notice on its platform.
Kitchens For You assists clients to organise each hire to meet their individual needs.
“We plan each kitchen individually with each customer. We are hoping to work with companies, both big and small within the industry, recognising that no two kitchen hire requirements are the same,” says Ms Nassra.
One of those tailored solutions is a kitchen set up for video production and cooking shows. It is targeted at vloggers and companies such as media houses shooting cooking shows.
“You do not have to prepare meals exclusively for sale,” adds Ms Nassra.
The firm is currently looking for space in Westlands which has emerged as one of the busiest city nodes for the local food industry.
"You will have access to a new segment of customers with over 110,000 households and professional hubs, residential estates and the highest median income population across the city,” Ms Nassra says.
There are plans to open branches in Nakuru, Mombasa and other towns.