Cafe that serves professionals by day and revellers by night

Kosta Cafe

Kosta Cafe's menu board in Westlands, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Helen’s approach to Kosta Cafe’s operations is meticulous and customer-focused.
  • A key strategy for Kosta Café has been its diverse and adaptable menu.
  • Kosta Café employs a mix of regular and casual staff to handle the varying customer flow

In the bustle of Nairobi’s Westlands, Kosta Café founder Helen Ogweno, has created a thriving food business that caters to a unique clientele.

Nestled inside Cavalli @ the Manor, a popular entertainment joint, Kosta Café has become a favourite food joint among corporate professionals during the day and revelers by night.

“The location was good,” Helen notes. “Westlands is a place where you find corporate professionals during the day and a lively crowds in the evenings. It’s the perfect spot for a cafe like ours that serves both lunch buffets and late-night à la carte meals.”

There is a growing trend in the hospitality industry whereby cafés are strategically placed adjacent to clubs and nightlife spots. This symbiotic arrangement draws in a diverse clientele who seek both entertainment and quality food.

Helen acknowledges this stating: “It is an emerging trend because it creates a seamless flow of customers who move between the club and the cafe. People who come to enjoy the club often need a place to relax, have a meal, or grab a drink, and having a cafe right next door meets that demand perfectly.” This strategic positioning not only boosts foot traffic but also enhances the overall customer experience, making it a win-win for both the club and the cafe.


Helen’s approach to Kosta Cafe’s operations is meticulous and customer-focused.

The cafe serves a buffet of between 30 to 50 people until 4pm from Monday to Friday, followed by an à la carte service. This flexible dining option caters to both individuals and groups, accommodating various customer preferences.

“We serve lunch with a mini buffet for people who are walking around,” the proprietor explains. “After 4pm, we switch to à la carte, preparing what customers have requested as per their needs.”

A key strategy for Kosta Café has been its diverse and adaptable menu. The café offers a range of dishes from fast food to traditional meals, including chicken, beef, goat, pork and fish prepared in different styles. Helen’s keen observation of customer preferences led to a significant reduction in the use of spices and cooking oil, catering to a growing demand for healthier options.

Hellen Ogweno,

Ms Hellen Ogweno, founder of Kosta Café located in Westlands, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool

“We realised that nowadays, people don’t like spices and lots of oil due to lifestyle diseases,” she said. “So in our cooking, we make it as mild as possible, but very tasty.”

Kosta Café employs a mix of regular and casual staff to handle the varying customer flow. Regular staff manage the day-to-day operations, while casual workers are brought in during peak times, such as Thursday evenings and weekends when the club’s activities heighten.

“We have five regular staff and an additional seven casual staff who come on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday,” Helen notes. “This helps us handle the large population we get on these days.”

With a year and few months in food business, and more than a decade in supplies business, having retired from her insurance job back in 2013, Hellen emphasises financial discipline as a cornerstone of her business acumen. She used her savings from previous ventures to set up the necessary infrastructure for Kosta Café, including freezers, cookers and utensils. “You need a number of things to start a food business in this capacity,” she explains. “For this establishment, I spent like Sh2 million to stock, buy all the requirements, and get the necessary licenses.”

As a food services provider in the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, Kosta café is not averse to challenges. The high cost of rent in Westlands and the fluctuating food prices with the tough economy are some of them.

“The high cost of living is a big challenge,” admits Ms Ogweno. “We navigate these challenges by maintaining strict cost controls and adjusting prices gradually to avoid significant impacts on customers.”

The café, which is keen on growth, capitalises on innovation by continuously updating their menu based on customer feedback and market trends. Recently, they introduced new drink offerings, such as mocktails, and are planning further menu enhancements.

Additionally, the founder is exploring opportunities for expansion, with plans to open a second branch in a carefully chosen location to maintain the brand’s momentum. “In the next few months, we may have another branch,” she reveals.

Lower sales

Mr Japh Adams Kiaye, the manager at Kosta Café shares that upon assuming the role, he encountered challenges such as lower sales and profitability, but through implementing strategic changes, they have managed to overcome these obstacles and thrive despite tough economic conditions.

Technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing the customer experience at Kosta Café and streamlining operations. Leveraging technology, the café has optimised staffing and improved efficiency in various areas.

“We’ve partnered with Family Bank, utilising their merchant portal to manage mobile money and PDQ transactions seamlessly. Integration with our POS system enables automatic reconciliation, eliminating the need for manual intervention. Moreover, we have noticed the impact of adopting technology, as it has made payments easier, fostering customer trust,” the manager shares.

“Additionally, we’ve implemented a loyalty programme for buffet customers, awarding them loyalty points that can be redeemed for food, further enhancing customer satisfaction and retention. Furthermore, we have adopted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and utilise bulk SMS to stay engaged with our customers, ensuring personalised communication and fostering long-term relationships,” he added.

Kosta Café has innovatively expanded its services by offering convenient food delivery packages to companies during lunchtime. Understanding the busy schedules of corporate professionals, the café provides a variety of freshly prepared meals that can be delivered directly to offices, ensuring that employees enjoy a nutritious and delicious lunch without leaving their workplace.

These tailored packages cater to diverse tastes and dietary preferences, ranging from traditional delicacies to light and healthy options.

This service not only enhances employee satisfaction and productivity but also strengthens Kosta Café’s presence in the corporate sector, reinforcing its reputation as a reliable and customer-focused restaurant.