Augusta businessman opens restaurant in his native country of Kenya

Reuben Wanjala has learned a thing or two about telecommuting in his efforts to keep his restaurant operating smoothly.

Wanjala, who lives in Augusta, opened an American-theme cafe in his home country of Kenya. Phone calls to his siblings, who run the daily operations, total $700 a month.

The 55-seat restaurant opened in 2010 serving hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and Coca-Cola products. The restaurant is unlike most things seen in the developing country, Wanjala said.

International Cafe, as it’s called, caters mainly to tourists, but some native Kenyans are curious about the operation. The Kenyan culture emphasizes cooking and eating food in the home, Wanjala said.

A traditional Kenyan meal lasts two hours, but customers can be served at the restaurant in as little as 15 minutes.

“They’re amazed by the efficiency and how fast things operate. Traditionally, that’s not how we do it,” he said.

Wanjala immigrated to the U.S. in 1996. He learned business practices from observing American economic principles.

The restaurant was the first venture of Wanjala’s business consulting company, Get-Success Inc. The company also publishes a magazine.

Wanjala hopes the restaurant encourages other Kenyan families to start similar economic ventures. International Cafe has helped introduce Kenya to the western world, Wanjala said.

The restaurant, which employs 20 people, is similar to a sports bar with big television screens. Tourists come for the food and catch up on news, he said.

The restaurant is in two Kenyan cities, Nairobi and Webuye. Wanjala would like to open one in the United States, too.

Wanjala’s family in Kenya keeps all profits from the business.

“Now that it’s successful, it’s paying for everything they need for their livelihood,” he said. “I don’t have to send any money home.”

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