How MunchDen Restaurant Used Digital Platforms To Survive COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global food industry as many governments close restaurants and bars to curb the spread of the virus. All over the world, daily restaurant traffic has dropped significantly compared to the same period the year before. The closure of restaurants affected related industries such as food production, alcohol production, food and beverage shipping, fishing and agriculture.
The problems were particularly disruptive in urban areas where large proportions of entire categories of food products are typically sold using real-time logistics, such as ordering and delivery.
As the world tried to adjust to the new normal at the start of last year, Joe Gitonga’s Restaurant, The MunchDen Grill, in the corner Dagoretti suffered a big blow. I sat across from him and his wife Njeri in his restaurant, masks and considerable space between us.
The atmosphere of the dining room, so clean, the warm reception and the wooden trays created a relaxed atmosphere. The interior area looked warm and inviting, while the exterior had ample parking space and two warm chefs grilling the chicken and pork.
Joe remembers the time before the pandemic. He tells me how his restaurant was always packed, with regular customers flocking every day. However, at the onset of COVID-19, Joe tells me it was a time of uncertainty and fear. He adds that the customers who come to eat at the restaurant have declined significantly and that he was forced to close for a short time when the government completely banned operations at the restaurants.
It was then that he knew he needed an alternative strategy. He started to make deliveries. He started by selling the stock he had; raw chicken. Over time, customers ordered other meat products like beef and pork, which he delivered. Slowly but surely, the delivery business resumed. He also started using digital platforms like Twitter and Instagram to promote his business and reach more customers.
“Business has picked up steadily before the new measures were announced. We have reorganized our operations to meet the changing demands of our customers in addition to improving the well-being of our employees. We have increased our social media presence and we are constantly engaging with our customers to get feedback and improve their needs, ”said Joe.
According to Joe, the third wave, and the lockdown thereafter, tested the resilience of the limit-eating joint against a backdrop of drastically declining customer numbers and increasing operating expenses. Established protocols of limited hours of operation and reception capacity have consequently reduced catering operations across the country.
Upon entering the restaurant, I noticed the hand washing booths at the entrance, the spaced seats inside the restaurant, and the diners inside had masks when not eating. This, Joe tells me, is in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 at his facility.
I had the opportunity to taste one of the bestsellers, the stir-fry chicken and masala fries, and yes the food is just glorious. The order also arrived at the stipulated time unlike other establishments where an order can arrive hours late. The staff at the facility were also very courteous and ready to serve.
MunchDen Grill is reasonably priced with whole raw chicken for Ksh. 450 and a kilogram of pork is worth Ksh. 600. Price changes for ready meals and delivery charges are also separate, depending on location.
Joe and his wife, Njeri, aim to open more branches in different areas to provide more convenience and to share their delicious meals with Kenyans. Their menu offers sides like ugali, fries and soft drinks.
So if you are ever around Dagoretti Corner and not sure where to have a meal, check out The Munch Den and I can assure you you won’t leave disappointed. The MunchDen grill is on Instagram @TheMunchDenGrill, and on Twitter like @MunchDen. You can also call for deliveries via 0711968496.
The institution encourages MPESA as a payment option. According to Joe, M-PESA is a safe and convenient means of payment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.