As it appeared in the Daily Nation on March 29th 2016
Fast Food eateries have evolved. The days of Munyiri’s fish and chips are long gone. In case you have no idea about Munyiri’s please get insights from those who went to college in Nairobi in the 90’s and possibly in the 80’s. My best memory was when the Egerton University bus parked right outside Munyiri’s. I do not remember much about the customer experience or the fish but the chicken was well loaded with calories for our trip back to Njoro and it was tasty.
By the time I got my first salary there was a certain Steers on Tom Mboya Street that I really liked. It seemed clean and organized and the Ice-cream and the chicken was like nothing I had tasted before. Before Steers hit the market there was off course Wimpy with the one at corner house being a favourite for many. I liked the coleslaw but the “Kula na Kutoka” (Eat and Leave) sort of management philosophy was detestable. There was also a Burger King (not the real Burger King) on Kimathi Street that was possibly the first to introduce milk shakes and had really nice mango juice. I had my first nasty customer experience at this eatery, the meat party in the burger was rotten. After several minutes of a standoff I had a chicken burger instead and that was my last time there.
Despite there being several Kenchic Inns in Nairobi I do not seem to have interacted much with the eatery and have no single memory to write about. I do not recall at what point Inscoor entered Kenya with Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Galitos and the like. What I recall is visiting Pizza inn on Ngong Road with my sister’s family for the first time in late 2004. Having already developed some Pizza taste buds while studying in the USA I had not expected to see my niece consider Pizza awful. With time, like many Kenyans she has developed the cheesy taste buds and the selection of Pizza eateries has grown. At just about the same time, Java was establishing itself. When I interacted with the founder he told me it was not exactly a fast food but I know it as an eatery that gets your meal pretty fast and one that has fuelled our coffee drinking culture. I recall having to wait for a space at the Mama Ngina Street branch because I liked the ambience and there was no other branch in town then.
The list of fast food eateries is endless, today we have growing chains of Artcaffe, Urban Coffee, The Mug, Savannah, Dormans, Big Square and many others. Popular international fast food chains appetite for Kenya seems to grow with KFC entering Kenya in 2009, Subway in 2013, Dominos in 2014 and Pizza hut in 2015. Quite interesting though is that the largest fast food chain McDonald’s is yet to make its entry into Kenya. What I believe we need though is not a McDonald’s but the healthier Chipotle Mexican Grill or its equivalent. With the fast food arena becoming more competitive, the focus on the customer can no longer be an afterthought. Most eateries are today very deliberate about their overall customer experience.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy