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Zen Garden looks beyond Kenya for bigger pie of exclusive eatery market

Guests at the high-end Zen Garden restaurant in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY
Guests at the high-end Zen Garden restaurant in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

High-end restaurant Zen Garden is looking beyond the borders for expansion even as it deepens its foothold in Kenya’s exclusive eatery market segment.

The restaurant’s directors, Payal and Shivani Radia, say they consider partnership deals to open branches in other countries in the region and elsewhere as the next growth frontier.

“We don’t intend to open branches in Kenya since Zen is exclusive, there can only be one in Kenya, and people come from all corner of the country to this place. So it’s only logical to expand outside the country,” says Payal.

Payal says that their concept behind Zen Garden been successfully executed, with the restaurant sustaining exclusive service and still managing to keep its clientele base over the years.

“The sheer beauty of the location, privacy, lush and spacious gardens, uncompromised quality of food and quality service, top-notch facilities, attracts customers to the restaurants,” says Payal.

On October 24 this year Zen Garden will be celebrating 10 years in Kenya’s hospitality sector during which it has hosted some of the world’s top-notch brands and influential personalities at the restaurant in Nairobi’s lush Spring Valley suburb.

The directors say they are planning a myriad of activities for the special occasion, the highlight of which will be an event to reward their regular guests.

“We have different ideas already but have not decided yet. Above all, we want to make sure our regular clients feel special on that day,” says Payal.

Over the years, Zen Garden has hosted corporate events for revered brands, notably United Nations agencies, Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, Kenol-Kobil, Safaricom and Heineken.

The list of regulars at the tavern includes non-governmental organisations, commercial banks, and international schools launching their products and services or holding business parties.

“Very well-known companies like to host their events here as we have enough space, including two restaurants and one conference facility, a large garden with surrounding ambience inspired by the urban gardens of Asia,” Payal says.

The tavern has also hosted President Uhuru Kenyatta and his entourage, former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, and former UK First Lady Cherie Blair, among other high-flying personalities to occasion the secluded spot.

“The president just walked in for private lunch with a small entourage. It was a great honour. We receive a lot of international visits too. Influential and like-minded people from all over Kenya like to come here for a quiet lunch or dinner with people close to them and we offer them personalized services,” Shivani says.

The two sisters, with a past stint in the United Kingdom, the venture initially appeared risky since they had no prior background in hospitality.

They credit their open-mindednesses to their success.

“When we travel abroad we bring back new ideas on world trends that we incorporate into the businesses,” Shivani says.

The trends, she says, inspired a fashion show and the restaurant’s cook book that’s exclusively ‘Zen’.

The Zen Garden Fashion High Tea charity event, which has become part of the tavern’s calendar of activities, raised Sh1 million that was channelled to Hope and Faith Centre For Disabled in Kiambu. 

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