- With its cocktail of fun activities to indulge in for both adults and children, it has become the place to be for families looking to unwind and relax.
- Different species of indigenous trees tower above the semi-permanent structures erected in the middle of space and to the south of the ground, there is a kids’ corner with a bouncing castle, trampoline and face painting spots.
- During Karaoke nights, they offer free slices of pizza that is made in the restaurant.
On the outskirts of Nyeri town sits Joy Greens which has in the past few months created a buzz in the local entertainment scene. With its cocktail of fun activities to indulge in for both adults and children, it has become the place to be for families looking to unwind and relax.
It is not your ordinary restaurant. It is one big open space with semi-permanent structures. Customers sit on seats and tables made from metallic barrels and around open fire pits. For those who want a little protection from the elements, there are tents with seats suited with comfortable cushions placed on pallets.
Different species of indigenous trees tower above the semi-permanent structures erected in the middle of space and to the south of the ground, there is a kids’ corner with a bouncing castle, trampoline and face painting spots.
And while families eat their nyama choma and take their choice drinks as they enjoy live performances from a centralised stage, there is a car wash at the corner of the resort to make the journey back home that more pleasant.
It used to be that to enjoy such services, residents’ choices were limited to luxurious hotels. For most financially strained families, especially in the last two years when the Covid pandemic ate into disposable incomes, this meant they were locked out of these spaces.
But Waruru Ndegwa, the proprietor of Joy Greens, believes that families shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg to enjoy great services. And so in early 2021, he started his search for land to set up a garden restaurant.
The government had just started easing some of the stringiest Covid health regulations and Mr Ndegwa knew that locals, sick of cabin fever, would be on the lookout for joints to relax and unwind without feeling like they are in an enclosure.
“We launched this garden restaurant in July 2021. The idea was to have an auspicious outdoor space that caters for everyone including children since everyone had been forced to retreat to their homes,” said Mr Josphat Gathitu, the general manager.
“We figured that something was lacking… and people need a place to relax and get entertained. There is enough space that caters to everyone and sufficient to maintain social distance in this Covid-19 era,” added Mr Gathitu.
Within the short time of its existence, they have managed to pull high-ranking artists from the Sol generation crew, popular Kikuyu benga musicians who attract revellers at night especially on the weekend.
“We are always fully packed and we are enjoying operating from this side,” he said adding that they have a resident live band that performs throughout the day.
To kill the monotony of the entertainment scene, they bring in different artists who perform different genres. This has proved to be a winning strategy, keeping customers coming.
“I love live concerts and I thought it will be a good way to diversify entertainment in Nyeri since most hotels or clubs rely on DJs or recorded DJ mix tapes. We offer something different,” Mr Waruru said.
During Karaoke nights, they offer free slices of pizza that is made in the restaurant. On normal days they sell them at Sh600 and Sh1, 200 depending on the size. Burgers retail at Sh350.
“We are an affordable restaurant as we always ensure our prices are tailor-made to serve in the prevailing economic situation compared to other places,” Mr Gathitu said.
Mr Waruru has always been has spent approximately Sh3 million on the garden restaurant. By leasing the land and setting up the semi-permanent structures, he has managed to keep his costs down.
“This was cheaper compared to building from scratch. Moreover, I opted to lease this land from the owner to avoid the cost of buying… and that was collectively a good decision for my business,” he said.
“The entertainment scene is growing and with it, I am hoping to start enjoying returns soon,” he said.
Different days attract different clientele and age sets depending on the performing artist or Djs –they have resident and guest DJs on occasion.
“We sell more on Mugithi nights because the age set is older and is working so they tend to spend more,” the general manager said.