If there is a tradition Kenyans have, especially among the middle class, it is the tendency of catching up with a friend, acquaintance or business associate in one of the affluent coffee bars of Nairobi. Java and Dormans had dominated the scene for a long time until several joints of equal scale set up shop.
Among the new kids on the block is Israeli-owned Art Caffé, an up-market cafe that offers a full cocktail and coffee bar and a bakery, with branches in Westlands, Gigiri, Karen and the Junction Mall.
The affluent eatery has however been getting bad publicity in the recent past with a good number of Kenyans lashing the place for being racist!
A quick search on the internet will reveal to you that the racist allegations facing Art Caffe date back to 2009 but a disturbing post yesterday by one Koki Mutua to Kilimani Mums, a popular social women’s group on Facebook, seemed to be the straw that would break the camel’s back.
The post stirred emotions and what followed were the recounting of scores of bad experiences at Art Café from different persons with the same spilling on to Twitter.
MOVED FOR A WHITE FAMILY
“I’ve had two meetings at Art Caffe Westgate but the service was ok, I guess it was because I was meeting light skinned personalities in Jim Shamoon in one of those two meetings and later Bella Gabriella Isadora Anna Olivia Liv Rose DeYoung and Mette Nordvig.
I have however had an experience where a close friend refused to a meet at Art Caffe citing two issues, POOR SERVICE and RACISM where she had to be moved from a seat simple because a white family had walked in and they needed a “larger table” yet there were free tables with a capacity of four, the number of the family.
When I saw the #RacistArtCaffe thing today, I smiled and mumbled, “someone took note at last” Well, #KOT are tearing the franchise apart, I hope the management get’s to know what’s happening and changes”, Tweeted controversial actor Kohadha Roy Ogolla ).
Singer Habida also claims to have had a nasty experience at Art Café a week ago when she allegedly ordered take away chicken wings for dinner, only to realize in shock half way through her meal that one of the wings had a big chunk bitten off it.
ART CAFFÉ APOLOGISES
The social media protest attracted the eye of the media and the ‘Croissant Story’ made headlines in today’s papers and a discussion on Art Café racist allegations was also on air at Capital FM this morning. Efforts by the presenter to call the management for their side of the story went unanswered but Koki Mutua acknowledged to have received an apology from the manager of the Village Market branch where her brother had been accosted.
Their apology from a Yaniz Sternberg read: “Hello Koki Mutua, sorry for your brothers [brother’s] experience at our Village [Village Market] branch. We do not have preferential treatment to anyone, and we are sorry if your brother felt this way. Our bakery simply could not handle his larger order, because we pre-bake the amounts for each day, but arrangements were made and his order was provided. The requirement to order in advance with our bakery is a policy we maintain with all our customers. We would be happy to meet with you both to speak over this issue in detail. Please contact us at email@example.com. Please know that you are a highly valued customer. Again, our apologies for the misunderstanding.”
GOOD NEWS FOR JAVA HOUSE
This is Kenya and we are known to have some peculiar habits and one of them is capitalizing on an adversity facing a competitor, or the nation to give oneself an edge and the marketing personnel at Java House did exactly this by capitalizing on Art Caffé’s Croissant saga. A tweet from their tweeter handle read;
Well, truth be told, as the Swahili saying goes “Lisemwalo Lipo, Na Kama Halipo Laja” judging from the numerous experiences it’s unfortunate that Kenyans, or rather the black community, can be treated to such blatant discrimination in our own land and to Art Caffé, we say Style Up!
So Kenya Forum readers, let us know what you think. And if you want to let Art Caffe know your views, a reminder that their email is firstname.lastname@example.org!