Little known restaurants have scooped this year’s Kenya Hoteliers Awards for exemplary service, beating big names in the hospitality industry.
In the second edition of the awards ceremony held in Nairobi Sunday evening, thousands of contestants had placed their bets to prove their likeability among regular clientele, who voted through unique codes generated by giant telco Safaricom.
The two-month long exercise saw customers vote on different areas of service, including bartending, entertainment, chef, hostess, customer service, kitchen staff, mixology and general hotelier among others.
Black Samurai Lounge, tucked somewhere on Rose Avenue in Nairobi’s Kilimani neighbourhood, produced the Mixologist of the Year 2023, Oscar Onyango Owuor, together with the best Hostess of the Year, Shanice Mugambi, both of whom have several years of experience.
One of the lead organizers of the fete, Japheth Ombui, who is the president of Kabila la Vijana, told the largely youthful participants and peers, that winning or losing the contest was not the end, but the beginning of great achievements.
He advised them to be self-driven in agitating for what they want in life, saying the time for youth leadership is now and not the future any more.
“Whether you won or lost, we are all winners. You are the CEO and the director of your own life; don’t confine yourself to one area, learn to go against the tide by trying virtually anything and everything, do the extraordinary with courage and zeal,” Ombui said.
In matters cookery, the Kitchen Staff of the Year and Outstanding Chef of the Year awards went to Vitalis Wakhwale of Coffee Garage and Café, Hurlingham, and Dennis Tete of Number 7 Restaurant on the Koinange-Monrovia Streets junction in the CBD respectively.
The Industry Entertainer of the Year and Serviceperson of the Year awards went to Tiktoker Shirleen Pendo and Hamisi Mnyeheri respectively. Mnyeheri works as a guest relations officer at a Coast resort.
Individuals from notable city hotels who appeared in the contest are Kennedy Mutinda of Nairobi Safari Club on University Way (Bartender of the Year) and Askah Bosire of Sentrim Hotels chain (Service Lady of the Year).
The Hotelier of the Year recognition was awarded to a neighbour of Bomas of Kenya, Mellen Achieng of Qmins Restaurant on Forest Edge Road in Karen.
According to organizers, the next edition of the awards will be scaled up to continental level to bring on board African hospitality players.