Ex-Ranalo Chef launches his own "Branch" Restaurant

[SIZE=6]Ex-Ranalo chef launches Sh30 million restaurant[/SIZE]
MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018 20:06
Joab Okeya’s story is that of servant-turned master thanks to what he attributes to patience and humility.
For nine years, he was cooking at Ranalo Foods, popularly known as KOsewe, on the busy Kimathi Street in Nairobi. Ranalo stands out for its traditional dishes, a niche that has seen it get clients from all walks of life. Mr Okeya’s interactions with customers at Ranalo helped him to nurture a friendship and trust that bore what is today a business partnership. Mr Okeya, 32, is the chief executive of The Branch Restaurant on Moi Avenue, sitting next to Kenya Cinema.

He must have studied the behaviour and tastes of guests while at his former workplace, if The Branch menu were telling the story of a careful reader of his environment. Like Kosewe, The Branch’s menu is also African and traditional: Athola (roasted beef stew), fish, chicken, ugali and veggies. Fast foods like chips, sausages, and samosas are also available.

“We do not put artificial additives in our dishes, which has helped to grow the popularity of The Branch,” said Mr Okeya about the restaurant that opened its doors in September last year.

He says the restaurant is still running on launch prices, for example a dish of fried tilapia goes for Sh550, smoked fish Sh450, while white coffee is Sh200. True to its name, guests enjoy the view of tree branches while rhumba music plays, adding to the homely ambiance and interior décor, chosen by his doctor wife Esther. Mr Okeya and his partner raised “around Sh30 million” for the venture that opened its doors during the recent turbulent political period characterised by street battles with the Opposition seeking reforms.

“As other restaurants closed doors because of the street demos, we kept ours open in order to capture the clientele who at the time was looking for well-prepared African dishes,” says Mr Okeya, who holds a diploma in Hotel Management and Catering from Jinja College in Uganda.

Branch Restaurant CEO Joab Okeya outside the Branch outlet at Kenya Cinema on January 5, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The Branch, Mr Okeya says, is a 50-50 partnership with a proprietor he did not reveal for this story. How did the business partners meet? Mr Okeya says the would-be partner approached him with the idea of setting up a restaurant “when I was already contemplating leaving Ranalo, popularly known as Kosewe.” The plan was to step out and expand horizons, he says, by finding a new role at a high end restaurant for career growth. As a young boy in a family of 11 children in “the depths of Nyanza”, Okeya says he performed every chore at home. That’s how he realised he had a passion for cooking.
“I used to cook, clean and wash clothes just like my sisters did,” he recalls, noting this is what ignited in him the dream of being a chef.

This childhood dream was sharpened when he emerged tops in a Home Science class at school. He, therefore, knew his training would be in culinary art. On a good day, The Branch receives up to 500 guests with popular orders being the coconut, wet and dry fish as well as athola. Since quality is our value proposition, at The Branch we are ever on time and our food is always fresh,” says Mr Okeya, adding they get fish from Lake Victoria, kienyeji chicken from Ukambani and Western Kenya.

The traditional vegetables include saga, mrenda and managu are sourced from Western Kenya, Nyanza and Central Kenya. The Branch has 28 employees, including three chefs and two cooks.
It hosts group meetings at no extra cost, so long as the guests buy food and drinks. His dream: “To see The Branch become the mega city of real African dishes in Nairobi.”

noma sana!

Lakini 30mill onge… aiiii…

Kosewe sliced his former boss huko buma market akahama na clients sasa amepata dawa.

Exaggeration ofcourse, you should know people. Anyway I like the food and I wish them all the best.

Good for him, though hajasema ukweli wote.

The market is too big for everybody

If you factor in goodwill of spaces to let in cbd…its possible

karma is a bitch

The only places greed demonstrates itself through goodwill is the small electronic shops along moi avenue… huku kwengine goodwill is not asked of… again that figure is more spiced than their food. 30mill can only be invested in a business that brings you atleast 2mill profit per month… otherwise… hii inafaa kuwa kwa hekaya sekshen

Huyu jamaa maybe alipewa tu stake ya kedo 5 or 10% juu ya hiyo experience ako nayo, lakini 50-50 ziii.
When I was in college I witnessed a popular hotel shut down simply because the guy who used to make chapatis got poached by another scheming businessman. People would fill that hotel like pussy was being handed out for free. I don’t know how that guy used to make chapatis, but they were just different. Soft and very tasty. Someone obviously noticed, and approached him with a proposal. This someone would open a new hotel just opposite his current place of employment, and would take care of everything. This “chapati dude” would present himself as the owner of this new hotel, with the actual owner content with just staying in the shadows.

The whole thing went exactly according to plan. This guy one day abruptly resigned from his job, and the next day he was running “his own” hotel just opposite. Within a week, people were filling that new hotel like pussy was being handed out for free. The other, former popular hotel immediately became deserted, only people who were in a great hurry to eat got in.
It was an amazing thing to watch. How does a whole hotel shut down simply because the chapati guy left? I’m not saying that the same will happen to Ranalo, I think hao wamejipanga. I guess what I’m wondering is how does one deal with an employee who is responsible for a big part of your traffic? Do you coddle them, try to dilute their influence by looking for other great employees, or give them a small stake in your business to encourage them some more?

In such circumstances, you could give them shares or a small stake… in other circumstances, you train a guy who can fill in his place with minimal notice…an apprentice sort of. Make sure they learn the ropes kabisa. Yule mwengine akitoroka kuwa ready kwenda kwa press if its a big deal… kama hapa the main reason people will move is because of the publicity…you may be surprised that guy was not such a huge deal at ranalo after all. But that partner is a model businessman, a good fucking brute…

was thinking the same. He has been given a director position and company stock due to his skills. A wealthy customer at Kosewe, who prefers to be in the shadows, tracked him down and made a proposition he could not refuse

Kuna hoteli fulani hapo ya Kina bingwa pia so itachapwa compe mbaya

Always like the depth of knowledge by some villagers here.

Those doubting The 30Million story read about Blanco’s story on Biko Zulu’s blog


A serious outlet will do between Kes 17m and 20m on hardcore fixtures.

The 30milli is plausible.

Make them partner ata kama ni 5%, that’s how it works in the services industry. Bila hii you will lose a good worker and clients


@Ice_Cube seems you missed one of my very informative threads.

We are the kings of CBD eateries… our race owns the most and seriously prime joints in the CBD