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How Nairobi restaurant where Obama loved to eat has kept his memories alive

When asked what he missed most about the country of his father’s birth, retired American President Barack Obama said, “I miss the days I would walk into Green Corner Restaurant and enjoy chai and samosa without attracting attention.

Years later, though the restaurant has changed ownership and name to Cafe Deli, it has kept Obama’s favourite sitting spot and the samosas he so loved.

“After renovating the restaurant, we kept a corner for Obama, his favourite spot and also the samosa because this place was known for the best samosa in town,” says Obadoh Obadoh, the CEO of Cafe Deli.

In the evenings at the Obama Corner, you have a beautiful view of the sunset. When you open the windows, you are met with a lovely breeze, the music is soothing and the lighting just perfect.

And every minute, the waitress will pass by and ask if everything is okay. They even smile at patrons, unlike when Obama visited those many years ago.

HOSPITABLE WAITERS

Back then, Obama had gone to have lunch with his half-sister Dr Auma Obama at the city restaurant. In his memoir, Dreams From My Father, Obama says at the time he thought that the service was taking so long because the waiters had not seen them. He later realized that the delay was due to their skin colour.

“Just then I noticed an American family sit down a few tables away from us. Two of the African waiters immediately sprang into action, both of them smiling from one ear to the other,” Obama writes in Dreams From My Father.

Meanwhile, two other waiters were standing by the kitchen not making any attempt to serve them.

A customer sits at the Obama Corner inside the newly-refurbished Café Deli along Moi Avenue, Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
A customer sits at the Obama Corner inside the newly-refurbished Café Deli along Moi Avenue, Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

“Eventually an older man with sleepy eyes relented and brought us two menus. His manner was resentful though after several minutes he showed no signs of coming back,” he narrates in the book.

Many years later, alot about this restaurant has changed, including quality and service and waiters and waitresses who are lot more hospitable. Which perhaps explains the impressive clientele the eatery attracts.

QUALITY SERVICE

“I love the corner because it is exclusive, a place you can have a meeting and also quality time with loved ones and family. It is so tranquil yet it is within the town centre. But most importantly, I love to seat here to identify with Obama, you know I’m a Luo,” says Bishop Michael Adipo, a regular patron at the cafe.

Chebet Matilda, who also regularly patronises Cafe Deli, says for her service is what counts most when she is eating out.

“I will go back to a restaurant because the food is good and the personnel have treated me well. Otherwise, that is the last they will see of me,” she told Nairobi News.

The eatery’s unique and special history notwithstanding, there are many Nairobians who have never enjoyed a meal here, like Peter Mwaniki, who works as a salesperson for a mobile phone company.

“We meet here everyday as we wait to be assigned work. I just know it’s a classy restaurant but I have never thought of going in,” he said.