Curtains fall on one of East Africa’s oldest fast food restaurants

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The oldest fast food in the city has been shut down [File, Standard]

Against the backdrop of Kenya’s independence in 1963, the late Sham Hubin opened a fast food joint overlooking Muindi Mbingu and Moktar Daddar streets in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD).

Located on the prime ground floor of an old building opposite Jevenjee gardens, it became one of the first fish and chips restaurants in East Africa becoming a popular spot for many in its 59-year history. 

However, the family-run restaurant had to close shop two months ago owing to the high cost of production. Mohammed Galis, the son of the late founder, said he made the painful decision after numerous frustrations.

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“Although inflation and high rent increments for the premises largely played a role in the closure, unavailability of potatoes over the Covid-19 pandemic and the constant rise of cooking oil couldn’t permit us to get going. We couldn’t meet our clients’ expectations”, he said.

Galis, who joined his father’s fast food shop as a worker in 1971 after finishing school, said that at the time of closure, the shop had nine employees who had to be laid off.

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Being the oldest fast food in the CBD before many such points started mushrooming in the 1980s and 1990s, patrons of the restaurant regretted the decision.

52-year-old Nairobi resident Clare Gacheru said that she learnt about the joint through her father who had an office in the CBD.

Her father first took her to the joint when she was a primary school pupil and she fell in love with chicken and chips there. 

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“I was disappointed when I went there to get some chips and found they’d shut. A few days before the closure, the owner had complained to me about the rising cost of making chips. However, it never occurred to me that the joint would be closed down completely,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Samuel Aliviza who discovered the joint in the 1970s as a teenager. 

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