Artcaffé the latest edition to Nairobi CBD’s burgeoning restaurant scene

Restaurant chain Artcaffé recently opened its 34th and 35th locations in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) and is planning two more. One of its recent openings is a “flagship” location in Westminster House, overlooking Kenyatta Avenue. As well as providing “a full-service casual dining experience,” this outlet includes a bakery, coffee shop and cocktail bar. It opens daily from 6.45am until midnight and can seat 250.

The first Artcaffé opened in 2008, and US private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) acquired a majority stake in the chain late last year, initiating a period of rapid expansion. As part of the same deal, it acquired such brands as coffee house chain Dormans, Tapas Ceviche Bar, Urban Gourmet Burger, and Oh Cha Noodle Bar.

ECP’s growth ambitions are not confined to the capital. It opened an Artcaffé outlet in Kitengela, a small city located to the south of Nairobi, during August. According to ECP, this town “was an attractive site because of its burgeoning manufacturing industry and growing consumer class.”

The Sagaci Research View: Until fairly recently, foodservice chains in Nairobi were largely confined to the city’s malls, but there is now a rapidly developing restaurant scene in the CBD, with Java House (a chain that ECP exited in 2017), KFC, and Big Square among the brands now established in the area. This is part of a wider trend that is repositioning the CBD as a prime district for retail, as well as food and beverage.

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