Café Javas: A success story from a tough, humble beginning
Posted Sunday, October 6 2013 at 00:00
Forget about the waitresses that shuffle shoes at your beckon, Café Javas, Kisementi in a split second offers service out of this world.
Once upon a time, the idea of a food place situated near a busy road and a fuel station did not really sink in well with me. This was changed by the amazing aroma and delicious coffee at Cafe Javas which has managed to pull me in. The first Javas, if I recall, was on Bombo road, just next to the petrol station and service area of City Oil. This station and the adjacent coffee shop are part of the Mandela group, a team of dedicated brothers who not only run a very successful and professional business, but also hold their integrity as their biggest asset.
From one coffee shop and one petrol station, with patience and dedication the family managed to open their second Javas at the Oasis mall. Their entrance into the mall brought in an incredible traffic of clientele who were looking for this amazing coffee. But then it was not all about coffee, the decor and layout of this place was very modern and welcoming. The same menu of Bombo road was used and many new items were added to make it one of the best eateries in town. Good food, good coffee and a wonderful ambience were not a problem, managing service seemed to be their only weakness, but that being a common problem in service industry in Kampala, most of us understood and days went by.
One day I was having a chat with one of the Mandela brothers and he told me about their ambition of opening up more petrol stations and cafes. He seemed quite optimistic and though the project sounded like a grand one, somehow I did not doubt that sometime in the near future it would happen. Indeed, just a few years later their outlet opened on Jinja road and then the best of all, the one on Kiira road adjacent to Kisementi that I visited a few days ago.
Busy but swift people
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, the place was buzzing with clients, mostly Ugandans with their families. We actually managed to get one of the few empty tables. For a moment I thought we will go back to the story of having to wait to be served and so on, but lo and behold, it did not take a minute before a smiling waitress came holding the menu cards and asking us for our drink order. And when the food order was made, again, it took a very reasonable time, with all the other clients already there, for the food to arrive on the table.
Manager at task
At this point I will not comment on the food quantity or quality, I shall leave that to my friends who cover the culinary world, what I was impressed with was the excellent service which was initially my problem with Javas, and of course the cherry on the cake was the fact that a manager was walking around asking clients if all was well and if they needed more services, this was excellent.
I have seen many places come up and go down very fast in Kampala, it is really hard to maintain standards and sustain success, but this seems not to be a problem with the management of this group. I have met many people in the developing world who, with the first big cash coming their way, would dash to purchase the latest car models and splash their money on luxuries and unnecessary vanities, those have no success stories to share. Others who appreciate the fact that growth is organic and should be built on solid foundations, first strengthen their position and develop their business, plan, expand and at every stage reflect on the wrong and right and make it as the basis for the way forward. At this point I wish the Mandela family success in their endeavours, and as the saying goes among Muslims, when recounting success stories: Mashallah (As God wishes). Keep up the good work!