I Know When I’m Not Welcome

So the other day we were talking about going to cafes to work. I have some friends who do that whenever they want. They have plenty of my jealousy (I have to save some for Andrew Mwenda, who is entitled to a substantial portion of the envy I am capable of). They get up when they want, pick a nice place, and go there with their laptops and work there. They get to buy nice lunch, sit in pleasantly-decorated rooms, have waiters to do things for them without arguing (in offices the best you can expect is interns and even those have big heads unless you deceive them that you are the MD first).

There is an embarrassment of choices, so many places you can go to café-work. I have tried a few myself, thanks to the couple of years I spent as a restaurant critic, I know a few places, so I know what to look for. Buzz (no relation) in Bugolobi and Gatto Matto are excellent in the afternoons, though Buzz is kind of pricey. Soho is really cool, but you will have to plan around the trap that is the evening traffic jam. My personal favourites are Mokka Terrace outside Nakumatt (Only it gets so crowded these days) New York Kitchen (I just hide in the large red sofa with my notebook and emerge two hours later, all dragons slain, all tasks conquered, all quests complete), and Dormans. I love Dormans. It’s the closest I have to an actual home café, but I find I don’t often work there. I just go there to meet those of my friends I really like. If we have not been to Dormans, sorry that you have to find out this way that there is an echelon of friendship above the one you occupy. Or maybe we just haven’t gotten around to it. Or you are a guy. I don’t meet guys in coffeeshops. That requires more confidence than I am ready to muster.

Mebanas was a tempting prospect for the longest time. It had one of my favourite waiters (I won’t say his name, but he and I first met at another restaurant. He’s excellent). The food is not championship-calibre, and the cake you eat just to eat, but the thing about it is the place. Its location and ambience are superb for working out of office. It is at that nexus where the invisible matrix of forces meet that create the perfect chill. I don’t care about the food. Also, the internet is quick. Most of the time when I go out I use my own modem, cos café wifi is from 1998 these days it seems, but Mebanas was surprisingly good. (I’m told they use Smile telecom, which is excellent in the city centre.)

So, this day I was looking forward to joining the two recepients of my jealousy Mebanas to chill, have a meal, relaxulate and then go home when my smartphone (Samsung Nexus S, if you really must know) emitted a chirp.

Apparently, I was not going to meet the Jealosinas because they were being kicked out.

You got served


Yup, the manager had sent the waiter to tell them to leave the place because they had been there too long. Now, first wait. Back up. Wait. Were you guys at Bon Apetit?

No. Mebanas Café.

  • At no time was the place full; they were not taking up space that could have been used by other clients.
  • They had already spent sh74,000 in the place and just know that when  you pay a restaurant bill you don’t just pay for food, you pay for a lot of other stuff too. You should be entitled to it.

  • Four people were being kicked out of being there too long. Two had been there for five hours. Another had joined them two hours later, so he had three hours, and one had just arrived an hour before the eviction notice. For comparison Mama Tonny will let you spend the whole night in her kafunda, she will let you sing and keep Tonny from concentrating on his homework, if you spend eight thousand shillings in her kafunda.
  • Was it that they were using up all the internet? If dudes are not a fala they should be paying a flat fee for wifi, meaning it doesn’t matter how much or how long people use your wifi, it makes no difference to your bill.

Yet the manager of Mebanas was asking people to leave.

Typically as crowded as this

I can only assume that the SHIELD helicarrier was on its way and she had to get them out before they saw it, because from the facts they gave me, there is no other reason I can see why anyone would kick paying customers out of a mostly empty restaurant when they are even attracting new customers at the rate of one every couple of hours (I would have been the third to join them.)

I find it hard to believe that the manager of Mebanas doesn’t understand that if people are not welcome to your restaurant, don’t have a restaurant, manage a jailhouse, instead.

A restaurant review of Mebanas in the Vision said:

“Mebanas on Twed Plaza, Kafu Road, really should be getting more custom than it does, I couldn’t help thinking. The location is right. Parking is plenty. The wi-fi is faster than you will find in most other places. And yet when I have been there it has been nigh deserted. “

That I hear mbu


I guess now we know why. You go there, they kick you out.