Dining September 21, 2021
One Of The Most Incredible Businesses In Minnesota, Afro Deli Is A Twin Cities Treasure With Tasty Food
A delicious restaurant in the Twin Cities is bringing culture and community together — with a bit of spice. Afro Deli & Grill is a treasure of a restaurant, serving up Afro-fusion food that’s fresh, fast, and delicious, all while helping care for the community it calls home. Here’s why you should make plans to dine at Afro Deli in the Twin Cities…
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Abdirahman Kahin, a former resident of Djibouti and Somalia who emigrated to the United States in 1998, seeking asylum. “I came with nothing."
Kahin made Minnesota his home, where he noticed something lacking in his community.
“I went to a lot of restaurants and could not find a decent African restaurant that was inviting to non-Africans in the Twin Cities," he explained. “I saw the opportunity.”
Though Kahin had no prior restaurant experience (he studied media production), he has an entrepreneurial and outgoing spirit and so he partnered with some experienced chefs he knew would help make his vision come to life.
“I wanted to bring something unique in the Twin Cities where people from African descent and Minnesotans (of European descent) can come together to enjoy African cuisine."
Kahin quickly recognized that he needed to make some adjustments to his menu.
“African cuisine is known for very spicy food,” he explained. “I had to adjust it for Norwegian and Swedish (tastes).”
The deli opened in a location near the University of Minnesota that was perfect. Kahin said the university brings in thousands of people from all over the world, including many who are open to his restaurant's unique offerings.
After a slow first year, the restaurant took off, and Kahin opened three more locations, started a catering business, and offered grab-and-go options for gas stations.
“We made it work,” he said. “But it takes a lot of hard work and you have to work a lot of hours.”
Kahin said his media background helped him create effective branding and he worked hard to gain business expertise.
“To make a restaurant successful, you have to have good branding, marketing, and management skills,” he said, adding that his employees are integral to Afro Deli's success. He said the city and local celebrities also lended important support along the way.
“The community has helped us a lot,” he said.
Kahin has worked to create a business that can stand on its own.
“For me, success is a business that can run itself, a business that can be easy to replicate, with a good system of management,” he said. “If you have all the parts together, that’s a successful business. You have to create a company that employees can be proud of. When you have a brand that people are willing to promote, you are successful.”
For Kahin, the best part of running a business is being able to create jobs and help take care of people.
“It’s not for everybody, when you are responsible for so many employees and their families, they depend on you,” he said. “So, you are working hard to make sure everybody is able to come to work tomorrow with joy. That’s the responsibility that I enjoy most.”
Some of the menu items at Afro Deli that are most popular include the Somali steak sandwich, which has thin-sliced beef sautéed with African spices, and the Chicken Fantastic, which includes white grilled chicken with sauteed bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, fresh garlic, light cream sauce, and grated Parmesan cheese.
“They are unique and you can’t find them anywhere else,” Kahin said. “It’s very easy to eat and accessible to everyone, and it’s all made with fresh and healthy ingredients." In fact, nothing on the menu is made with frozen or processed ingredients.
"We grill our steaks and chicken right there on the spot,” he said. “The freshness helps make our food unique.”
A big part of its Twin Cities community, Afro Deli has helped produce 800,000 meals for people in need, including elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless. Kahin works with nonprofit organizations like Meals on Wheels and Second Harvest to create the meals, with the business closing in on
one million meals served. Afro Deli also awards $10,000 scholarships to kids in the community to help them pursue higher education.
While Kahin has accomplished a lot in his two decades in the United States, he’s far from finished and he doesn’t call his business an accomplishment; his enterprise is a work in progress.
“I want to do more,” he said. “I'm halfway done.”
Afro Deli is eager to make your order – see a menu
here and be sure to follow the deli on Facebook and Instagram. Have you ever visited this incredible restaurant? What’s your favorite thing about this place? Share your thoughts and comments below!
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Nominate them here! And be sure to follow Only In Minnesota on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop about the latest news, events, and must-visit attractions in The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Address: Afro Deli & Grill: Minneapolis, 720 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA