Pizza

 Chefs preparing the large chicken pizza at their pizzeria at Alpha House, Kisumu.  

| Elizabeth Ojina | Nation Media Group

Family’s bet on a pizzeria in Kisumu pays off handsomely

The idea to start an eatery in Kisumu city struck James Omondi and his siblings when they went out for a meal in January last year.

Kisumu, a lakeside city, is known for its delicious fish, and as he sat there, eating his fish, Omondi saw a big gap in the fast-food market – what if he opened a restaurant that sold other meals since it seemed everyone else was selling fish? They decided to try out the pizza business.

"We wanted something different and unique to offer the market, we settled on pizza, which was not as commonly sold as fish, chips and chicken,” he explains.

He and his family pooled resources and raised money to secure the necessary permits and certification to set up a private business. They then went about looking for a strategic location to set up the business, choosing the busy Oginga Odinga Street. Even better, they managed to get ground floor space at the Alpha Plaza, right in the heart of the town.

"Our target is people working in offices located in the city as well as students looking to enjoy delicious fast food, ” explains Omondi.

With the capital, they bought equipment such as an oven, dough mixer, pizza pans and a freezer, then set up the pizzeria.

"We had to source for experts in the pizza-making business, since we didn’t know how to make them. We did interviews and settled on two chefs," he says.

Pizza

Chefs preparing the large chicken pizza at their pizzeria at Alpha House, Kisumu.  

Photo credit: Elizabeth Ojina | Nation Media Group

The family decide to brand their product 'Jajemelo Pizza', coined from the names of those who had invested in the business. With two chefs, a cashier and a vibrant marketing team, they were rearing to go. They make small, medium and large size pizzas which cost Sh500, Sh800 and Sh1,100 respectively.

"We sell classic and deluxe pizza which comes in vegetarian, beefy, chicken, fish and Indian spicy varieties to ensure that all taste buds are catered for,” says Omondi, the company’s General Manager.

"The good thing about selling pizza is that you can design your own a recipe, it ensures that your pizza is unique and is the secret to a successful pizza business," he adds.

Besides pizza, Jajemelo Restaurant sells burgers, fried chicken, chips, fruit juices and sodas as well. Despite the challenges that came with the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has managed to keep growing the business. The company’s Marketing Manager, Winnie Wenger, explains that they invested in social media to reach the clientele that was locked up in their homes.

“The response was good, due to a good marketing strategy by our marketing team. We are customer demand driven and we try as much as possible to seal the gaps to reach out to more customers,” she comments.

Jajemelo Restaurant  General Manager James Omondi.

The company has also partnered with Glovo and Jumia Food to allow for home and office deliveries.

“We have radius coverage for free pizza deliveries within Kisumu’s CBD, Milimani, Lolwe and Kenya-Re,” says Wenger.

The company has since grown to three branches, the mother branch in Kisumu, and two more in Nairobi and Ngong area. The number of chefs has also grown from two to 16.

"Kisumu is our hub, but we intend to expand the business to have more outlets in the country in the next five years,” says Omondi.

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