Meet Ivy Mutiso who is the owner of Casual Bite café located in Centro House, Westlands. The Wine and Food Review was very happy to interview her. My questions were more skewed towards her experience in starting and Developing Casual Bite. Ivy owns the establishment with her husband, Henrik.
How Did Casual Bite come about?
I registered it in 2004-2005. It ran in Langata for about two years and then it closed. I took a long time trying to figure out what I wanted to do. We found Centro House about two years ago. It took us about a year to secure the lease. I decided to maintain the name. I knew the name would match well with what I had started initially. I started it in April this year.
What makes you stand out from the rest?
Our menus are quick continental menus with light and healthy foods. We promote healthy eating. We have a lot of organic dishes. Our meat is sourced from a very good supplier and it is Ol Pajetta, which is a very top quality beef from Northern Kenya. The lamb is also great.
What is the inspiration for starting this place?
We wanted to come up with a vibrant place that targets young people on the go. We also love art. This is a place where there are exhibition and activities that support art. The other activities that we host are movie nights, performances from The Theatre Company. I was the Mountain Club of Kenya (MCK) chair for three years, and through this good affiliation with the club, I was able to encourage the committee to hold events as well as their monthly supper night meetings at the café. We also try to promote the outdoors and have just recently linked up with a cycling group called “Critical Mass” who meet every last Saturday of the month to raise awareness for safe cycling in Nairobi.
What else does your company do?
We have outside catering services through the main company, Food Solutions Ltd. We have done numerous catering events with the diplomatic community such as with the US Embassy on their independence day celebrations, Canada Day, and with the Embassy of Switzerland.
What makes the venue great for meetings?
The best thing is that we have three sections. There is the seating area for people having meals, the outside are for people who love sitting outside. There is a large room inside with large seats and they can accommodate a large group.
Do you plan to open another establishment with the same name?
Yes I plan to franchise but I will do that when I feel that this place can run on its own. I spend most of my time at Casual Bite, and for a franchise to take-off; the first one needs to be successful. I don’t see the need to focus my attention on two establishments until I perfect one, hence most probably in a years’ time will we be ready to consider franchising.
Your coffees and teas are very great. What makes them so authentic and tasty?
We get our coffee from a micro brewer who gets this directly from the farmer. I believe that gives our coffee a great quality. It is pure, unadulterated and we get to talk to the farmer directly as opposed to just buying a brand from a shelf. We talk to the brewer and he roasts and grinds to our specifications. We also grind our own coffee in-house. We use a lot of East African tea. In fact we have great Tanzanian & Ethiopian tea. You can also get herbal tea like chamomile.
Who is your target market?
This place is for anyone who wants to enjoy some peace and quiet. Majority of our clients are young people and expatriates from the community I cater to. We get many walk-ins because we are centrally located. We get many business people on weekdays.
What are your achievements?
We have had very great feedback in terms of the events, and through this, good exposure such as through the performances by The Theatre Company.We also have great food that has made our place standout for quality and style!
Advice to people who want to own a restaurant?
One thing is that you need to be present. The best way to manage a restaurant is by mingling with staff, clients and making sure everything is running. Secondly, a background in the hospitality field is a plus. You need to be financially astute too. Thirdly, you need to treat your employees well. Professionalism is also key.
For more info. Like the Casual Bite Facebook page.