Art Caffe – Overdue Post

I first started blogging about the Art Caffe in Nairobi in June last year. I’m finally publishing the post. Now, this is less a ‘review’ more a ‘rant’. Let me explain. I’ve been to Art Caffee three times… All three times I’ve had a *bad* experience.

Friends had been going to the Art Caffee and seemed to enjoy the experience, when it opened, but it was always out of my way, so I never really bothered going there. So, the first time at the Westgate Mall, I decided to try it out. Here goes experience one:

First Experience: House Coffee is a Latte

This was during one the first #140 Conference. The service was prompt. I asked what I then thought was a pleasant waitress (this would change by the time I had left the establishment) for a latte. I was served standard house coffee. She apologized about it, said something about the machine.  I figured, oh well, I’m was going to be there for a short time, let me enjoy the coffee and the ambience. So, I requested the bill which again promptly arrives, but it reads that I had a double latte (which is in excess of 200 bob), I tell her I had house coffee.  She then tells me that I had a ‘Double Latte’ and that it’s the same thing as house coffee. I explain the difference between the two to her and she simply says I ‘don’t know what I’m saying they are the same thing, if I don’t want to pay, I should say so. The price difference was 100 bob, I was leaving, I let it slide.


Second Experience – Coffee is above 100 KES

A friend of mine started working at the Art Caffe and suggested that I should give them a second chance. One Sunday evening, in June, I chose to stop by for a quick meal & coffee. As I approached the place, I noticed that it seemed congested, I asked the waitress at the door for a seat, politely informing her that I will not have company, hence I needed space either at the bar or at a two seater table. She chose to ‘politely’ inform me that in said establishment, coffee was in excess of 100 KES, and that  I should bear that in mind. I responded by telling her that I was well aware of the pricing and that she should get a handle on her job, there is a menu if I needed to check pricing, I’m perfectly capable of reading. It later hit me that she actually had not listened to a word I was saying and probably was assuming I chose to speak to her to find out the pricing. I did go in, had a cappuccino, which I did not finish due to time constraints.


Experience 3 – Still not good enough

This particular issue got to their management and that weekend they requested me to come back for a ‘better experience’… Being rather open minded, I showed up the next Saturday. I was seated. Chose to work. Waited. For two odd hours, no service, the initial excuse was that they were having their morning team meeting and hence would get to me in a while. The meeting ended and every waiter I beckoned said they have gone to get me the ‘waiter responsible for my table’. I did place an order, eventually, but it never arrived. You can imagine my surprise when, a few min later, a european family came to order breakfast got roughly 3 waiters taking their orders (suddenly table responsibility was not an issue) and had their meal in roughly 17 min. While I sat. Idle. I left without as much as a blink from the staff…

I eventually figured it out, after speaking to a couple of their waiters I realised why. Apparently, it’s because I’m black… Yes… According to the waiters, Kenyan’s tip badly hence you don’t prioritize serving them, while the others tip well… My problem with such reasoning is that it perpetuates the myth, because, if the Kenyans are necessarily treated badly, they will not tip, because the service was poor. So it’s a nasty cycle. The management has been made aware of this, but they don’t seem to really care about it. On speaking to my friends, I found out that they all had had issues at one point or another with the Art Caffe, similar issues. These have been raised severally to their management but have fallen on deaf ears… I don’t know whichI find worse, the persistent poor customer service that management ignores or the incorrigibly provincial thinking shown by their staff.

My suggestion? They should hang one of these at their door, that way, I’d have known not to bother…

EDIT – 20th June 2013

Just to clarify – my issue is that the waiters conduct racial profiling, but management couldn’t be bothered to address this issue. This issue keeps cropping up too many times to be pure hearsay. If you go through the comments, the waiters openly say that they do racially profile customers. Management, even with direct feedback from staff have chosen to do nothing about this – and that’s my problem. It may not be a problem of Art Cafe’s making but the’ve failed to address the issue.

130 thoughts on “Art Caffe – Overdue Post”

  1. In Savannah, I waited 15 mins. Some jungus came later and were promptly served. To make matters worse, their fries had salad, mine didn’t. Punks.

    1. Customer Service in Kenya… Remember the story about Obama not being served at the Stanley… Now they’d beg to give him a free meal. Silliness really.

      1. Customer service in Kenya is so poor. I was at the Stanley – Thai Chi Restaurant sometime back with 2 white friends whom I had taken there for a business dinner and the waiters showed them preferential treatment. I was not amused. They didn’t know that it was my prerogative to say if they would get a tip or not!!! I wasn’t amused. reminds me of a post I did last year on how we Kenyans are treated like rats. Surprisingly, Artcaffe was mentioned

      1. Are you trying to imply that by writing about this, and complaining about targetted selective treatment, we are being racist???

  2. Mr Kaboro,
    It will be interesting if the management reads this and how they respond to it. Please do an update to the post if and when this happens.
    All in all, this needed to be said.

    1. @Wiselar I’m willing to wager that the management probably won’t read this and if they do, they won’t bother contacting me. The problems have been there for over one year, really…

  3. I have waited 45 minutes for a waiter to approach my table, I like their food and seriously considering trading in one of my black friends for a white one for instances such as those. My white service attractor*. I would be interested to know what is the white to black ratio.

    1. I’ve never actually had their food so really :-). LOL! Yeah, you need one of those friends. Or a weave 😛

  4. This is sad…my heart sunk. In your own country you’re treated like a servant. What you don’t know is, kumbe it was sold long goes to the “white’s” smh

    As for the employees there, ignorance is sad. Really.

  5. PK,
    I was just smiling while reading this post. It should have been clear to you, Art Caffe is full of whites and looks more like a cafe on the streets of Milan, coz there are no many blacks there.

    For me, its simple, if the internet is working, I sit, if not, I walk to Dormans. If they dont serve me, I will do all I like but if they come after 20min, then I will not be sitting and waiting.

    The tip story sucks, so I only tip in my usual joints but like the Art Caffe, dont bother, you cant compete with the Dollar :):)

  6. I have had only pleasant experiences at Art Caffe, on the few occasions I have been there. Your experiences were horrible and needless, and among many I have heard from people. The worst of it is that with all the negative feedback that goes round about them, it is hardly likely their management is unaware of their reputation driven by their conduct. The sum of it, in my opinion, must be as you say: They simply don’t give a damn.

    1. That’s the thing, it’s easier to find people with bad experience than those with a good experience… They don’t care and will keep at it…

  7. Reminds me of one time at Savannah Loita Street, I walked in, sat down and worked on my laptop for about 15 min, then read a book for 30 min with no-one coming to serve me. I realized I was better off leaving and as I was walking out, a waiter stopped me and asked ‘Umelipa bill?’

    I looked at him, told him ‘sijalipa’ and walked out. The nerve!

    1. LOL! He might have called a guard btw… Savannah is losing it’s appeal slowly… Coffee houses in general tend to be like that, but Art Caffe is the crowning jewel of foolish.

  8. infact this applies not only in Art Caffee but in Africa and parts of the world in general . In my trip to Dubai it was the same case . The taxi drivers gave more priority to whites than blacks. There was once I waved for a cab to stop , and the guy passed right through to a white couple who were just a few meters a head of me.
    Once Oprah asked some girls (kids) to choose between a white doll and a black doll ..take a wild guess what they picked!

    1. The Dubai Indian cab drivers are special, but it’s all because white people tip better. The tipping culture is a very alien culture to us I guess.

  9. I concur!
    I was there recently with one of my white pals and the service was absolutely splendid! I went back a week later and sat there for an hour like some piece of their furniture before I had my order taken after which the waiter demanded CASH before bringing my order, which then took another half hour – for coffee & cake. WTF!?
    Why don’t they just hire bouncers and refuse admission to persons they don’t deem worthy of their establishment.
    I didn’t expect to find “segregation” in a restaurant in Kenya. By fellows of my own skin color. I don’t know if its one of those “managerial” policies, though I do know I’m not taking my coloured self back there ever.

    1. You were asked for cash upfront!!!!! Yikes and I thought I had a bad experience… WHOA! As I said they should put a notice.

  10. I once worked there and overheard a lady customer say ” I don’t tip waiters, only supervisors.” I really wanted to mark this lady and serve her crap, but thought to myself, “If I do this, its a downhill. I’ll serve everyone else like crap, and in responds get crappy response from customers”. But if ask me, the pay is crap, so we used to and still, they do (since I no longer work there) is highly depend on tips for a living, so since most whites have this tradition of tipping 10% of what they eat, I rather serve them first. Sad but true. No hard feelings 😀

    1. I know of several ‘dark’ skinned guys who do tip.
      I wouldn’t tip anyone if the service was poor. What for?
      One reaps what they sow.

  11. I was there once to meet my friend and I asked for a hot chocolate as I waited for my friend, telling the waiter I’d order dinner with my company. Eh! The European family of 4 who arrived after me got their full dinner served before my hot chocolate.

    Needless to say, we didn’t order dinner.

    1. Just to add, Java at The Junction is a ‘white’ establishment too. I once waited for 1 hour for service, when my light skinned business partners arrived, we got prompt service. If tips is the problem, why can’t management just factor that in their menu prices then we will go there only when we can afford?

      1. Yeah! I hate that Java. I’ve had terrible experiences with them in the past. I’d rather starve, than eat from there. Really shameful.

  12. What the waiters there need to realise is that noone will ever take care of you but your own. Remember when there was the tourism boycott of msa after the bombings and pev? The only hotels that didn’t close down and lay off staff were the traditional ‘miro’ hotels – those that catered to euro only closed business. So when we go through hard times and all ‘their clientele’ leave guess what we’ll be at dormans – buying the 240bob lattes and leaving good tips while they languish. My husband is a notoriously generous tipper but after once waiting forever to get food for our family one sunday … Its the first time I saw him leave fifty bob somehwere. Aluta coninua you colonised mwafricans.

    1. Very true. Very true. Why they won’t figure this out is beyond me. If the UN headquarters is ever moved, they are all out of business…

      If you ignore me, I surely won’t leave a tip, you did not do your job!

  13. I’ve never checked into Art Caffe and after reading this post, I highly doubt I will. I agree with the rest, customer service in coffee houses is pathetic! Pathetic!

  14. remember my article on customer service in Kenya? This is exactly that.
    I had stopped visiting arte caffe, due to this exact same issue. worse off is that management will NEVER care, because they are ever so full, never will you find a place to sit there easily.

    1. I get your point… But Art Caffe are expanding and their Galleria branch is woefully empty… While the Java burst’s it’s seams…

  15. I have fortunately never had a bad experience at any art caffe the three or four times I have visited one. except at the door…once there was this confused waitress or hostess. I have always encountered a friendly waiter/waitress, but I have heard of the nasty experiences some people have had, mostly at the westgate branch. This tipping business is what I don’t get. Tipping is a requirement in America and Europe, I have never heard of this being a requirement in Kenya, and anyway, the service is crap most of the time so why tip anyway? Having visited several fast food joints, restaurants and hotels in Dubai, I can confidently say that good service in Kenya is almost nonexistent.

  16. This echoes my experience exactly. I actually at down (I had to sit myself because they were too busy) worked on my computer for an hour and left again without having had anything to eat or drink, And this was after beckoning several waiters who were too busy standing and waiting for “”real customers”. We need to get out of this whole colonial attitude and realize that a customer is a customer..

    1. It’s just a matter of time. If they start expanding their target community will not suffice… they will have to fix it…

  17. Haven’t been there and after reading all these experiences I’m not interested. As Kaboro says you should only tip when the service is good, they always include a service charge in the bill anyway so you need not feel guilty. Pity if they actually don’t pay the staff well while they are selling coffee at 100 bob

    1. The staff are relatively well paid (for waiters). It’s a case of greed…

      Many waitresses go through roughly 2,000 – 3000 KES a day in tips…

  18. i’m really really shocked to hear this. to be really honest i’ve never experienced any bad customer service over at customer service. (could that be because i’m ‘white’??)

    and all this for an establishment which $1m to put up! maybe they should have spent some of that money in training their employees or paying their employees better.

    and also, their owners also own the japanese restaurant ‘onami’ – anyone experienced bad service there?

    1. Seems like its management policy at Art cafe because i’ve eaten a couple of times at Onami and had no issue with the service despite my being ‘authentic Kenyan’. One evening my date and i actually kept them waiting for us to finish our meal while chatting along despite the late hour and no other customers.

  19. Its a Catch-22 really.
    You don’t tip because you get bad service, BUT, you get bad service because you don’t tip.
    Very easy to fix. Just consistently provide good service.
    Bad news (as is evident here) travels fast

    1. What’s amazing is that majority of the guys seem to have gone through it. You’d be able to fix it if management gave a damn I guess…

  20. We should begin boycotting this places …let’s shame them ..this is NOT getting personal ..but it’s important to raise this issues (thanks Kaboro) and call them out – Shenzi Types..

  21. and they say racism exists only with the whites..the saddest thing is its there even within ourslves..whites r considered dominant, for wht reason? shame on all racists out there, am honestly disgraced to b associated with such!!

  22. What you are describing is not unique to Artcaffe….when I first moved to Kenya I was shocked by the treatment that I received from wait staff, shop assistants, bouncers, etc. The assumption always being that as an African woman I obviously can’t afford to be in this establishment, or pay for whatever is on offer. My non-black friends generally got more attention, better service (we once spent a month counting how many times my order was messed up in restaurants) and got hit up for the tip later on – which always made me laugh, because I was earning more money than the others.
    Leading me to conclude that it’s not just a ‘management’ problem, it’s a cultural/societal problem – we are more colonial than the colonialists.

    I don’t buy into conspiracies that places like Art Caffe, Java, etc don’t want to serve black people – money is money.

    Nor do I accept bad service anywhere. If I think I’m being treated disrespectfully, I will say so – to the person serving me and their manager. I only tip for good service and if the service is bad, I’ll tell you exactly why I didn’t leave you a tip. I’m not going to run out of place by ignorant attitudes.

    Sometimes bad service is just bad service – in which case, there’s a training issue that needs to be addressed.

    1. @ Sanyu,
      Great that you acknowledge training is lacking. But the truth of the matter is that, we have been taught to believe that white people are better customers than our own. Racism is real. Let’s not front this is not a racial issue as well, training aside!

  23. Mmmh. Interesting discussion. This attitude towards black customers is IMO common in the service industry and not unique to Art Cafe. Incidentally I have not been at the receiving end of poor service at this joint but have heard these sentiments echoed by friends before. The poor service to blacks game applies even in coffee houses in the cbd where clientele is pretty even btwn blacks and whites, Its very common across hotels in mombasa and I must say across East Africa. Dar, Kampala – same script, different cast. Therefore the problem is deeper than the management as I don’t think poor service to blacks is a mgmt policy at Art Cafe. The problem stems from the attitude of the youg lads and lasses working here. As a society we are churning out kids who feel inferior being black and treat their fellow blacks In this sad manner. I do hope the mgmt at Art Cafe and Java get to read these sentiments and hopefully seek to address the matter. I hope even more that waiters in nbi would be made aware of these sentiments so they can begin to check their attitudes as individuals too.

    1. Thing is, the demand for Coffee shops outstrips supply… I doubt they would… :-(.

      Same thing happened in Dar es Salaam to me. Simple things like security checks were based on color… Sadly.

    2. Esther, you hit the nail square on the head. The waiters and waitresses are simply projecting their inferiority complex on their fellow country men yet they wonder why they wont get that tip, nor is their life changing for the better anytime soon. Simple math would have them realize that there are many more indigenous Kenyans out there who would be tipping them much more often than the minority ‘White’ people they worship. Ask one Dr. James Mwangi as he trail blazes to creating the most profitable Bank in Kenya, yet just a few years back, Barclays was closing peoples accounts unceremoniously. Very silly self defeatist mentality some people have.

  24. This brings to mind an incident I had in a down town Kampala shop. I walk in, pick out and admire a pair of shoes, ask the attendant for the price only to get the response “Its too expensive” with a sneer for good measure. We have a generation of kids in dire need of help.

  25. It is a Catch 22 as stated.

    However I would also like to point out that I have never seen someone treat another human as badly as Kenyans from the “upper class” to the “lower class”. I have seen it in Cafes and also in the work place.

    Perhaps it is more than just about the tips.

    Getting harassed by a customer for an issue with their meal that is completely out of your control in many cases does not sound like a nice way to spend your working day. Neither does being talked to in a demeaning manner by someone who assumes they are your superior. If a waiter experiences these issues from a Kenyan 3 or 4 times over a week they will begin to form their own opinions of serving Kenyans Vs “whites” or foreigners.

    Their opinions have been formed for reasons they have experienced much the same as you have formed yours.

    While it is a shame that you feel hard done by during your Art Cafe “experience”, look on the bright side, you said it was out of your way so you will not miss visiting.

    I am in no way claiming that Art Café has perfect service at all times, I have had my own issues with the service there. However I would suggest that it is rare at best to find somewhere that has excellent service at all times that is also within an achievable price range more than once a month.

    1. I take great exception to bad behaviour. Why? Because typically the person being poorly treated is not the one dispensing the poor treatment. Have you seen how Europeans treat their staff? It’s equally bad…

      Two wrongs, additionally, do not make a right. If they hate the way they are being treated, they simply quit. Profiling makes it worse because the ‘rich’ Kenyans respect said waiters even less.

      Which brings me to something a friend saw at Nakumatt, a few weeks back, a guard at Nakumatt attempted to tell a European that the supermarket was closed. The poor guard was punched and thrown to the floor, and the european went in anyway. How is this better than how the African treats them?

    2. I have lived in America for 7 years and i can say with great certainty that excellent service at all times is something very achievable. But the thing with service industry in Africa a reputation does not make or break the business hence it will always be like this until the day a bad reputation mean bad business. like it is in America.

    3. I think Esther is right at some point no one would fuss over a smile,,its more like a two way traffic you be nice you get niceness in return..I’ve been to more restaurants and least cases a white person complains of attitude issues,if anything most complains come from from blacks cause they snear at waitresses and point is when you are talking to the waiter dont make them feel small like they dont matter and then expect them to give you amazing service most of the time the inferiority complex is more on the side of the black clients that we assume that the waiter is already looking down on us so we snapp and say things like [haraka haraka] and that only makes the waiter snappy in return. next time any of you is in a restaurant try being nice to your waitress and you will see different results i always eat in artcaffe now that they are so conviniently placed in NRB and i always get a very good experience and mind you am a luo as in black

  26. OMG! Kaboro first excellent write ~> This is a shocking yet very eye opening string of events and experiences.Ive been at Art caffe and Java (Junction, CBD) and never experienced any poor service that i can remember. On thing that i can clearly note though is the misconceptions that the opinions protray.

    Paul commented that generally white people tip better hence thats why you used to serve them first (WRONG!)
    Any black person who could have tipped and got passed over was surely not going to tip you. Anyone who tips doesnt tip coz they were served first – im sure a black person or white person tips coz of the service plus a white person with a conscience seeing you ignore a black client for his/her own service shoould consider you an idiot.

    Its a culture thing (WRONG!) – this doesnt apply in a black country which kenya is, its driven by money, lack of education or plain stupidity. The management is clearly at fault and they need to style up

    On a smaller note: WHO SAID BLACK PEOPLE DONT TIP? *HOLD MY WEAVE* *Arms AKIMBO* NKT! *SMH* and again *SMH* – i tip even the barmaid in the local pub i give her a 20 bab once in while, give the watchie a sock here and there even the parkie who shows me (without driving experience) how to reverse, that includes when i go to ARt caffe,java and the likes populated by white folks mainly- point i cant stand poor service let alone tip for it. so Kaboro next time dont give them the light of day

    1. @Kenn,

      Agreed. We have a tipping culture actually, tip everyone from the guard to the shoe cleaner. It’s when you get poor service that this changes…

  27. i once went to the Mara with my mom and siblings when at the gate to a certain resort the watchman tells us ‘The extra help goes straight to the back’. ninja what? it got worse when during dinner, we had to wait to be served soup-and yes we were the only black family. we left the next morning for Kichwa Tembo which was amazingly hospitable. My point, we cannot blame the waiters fully because you follow the culture you find when you join an organization. If the management was to reprimand this waiters trust me it would change!!!! So i blame the management more for ruining their good name.
    I have been to Art Caffe, and frankly i have no bad story but then again i am always meeting my Asian or white friends. and sadly i do not believe anyone will act on this.

  28. Wow..your comments have just *warned* me from going to artcaffe.I didn’t know the staff treat black Kenyans like that.I have been there once when they had just started and the service was good but I can see that greed has eaten into these kids(staff) instead of them striving for professionalism.I hope they realise that anyone can tip as long as service is great.

  29. Hi

    Let me tell you something; the bad service in Art caffe isn’t just a race issue. The service in Art Caffe is terrible full stop. I am white and my wife is a Kenyan Asian and we equally always have terrible service. Service is slow, I have stood in Art caffe for 20 mins to get seated and then had to wait 30mins just to get some one to take my order. One time it was so bad that the manager had to take my order whilst the waiters stood around chatting. The place has awful customer service; as does most of Kenya. After reading your blog and the comments, maybe my self and my wife receive bad service as we live in Nairobi and are not tourists. However I just think there is a problem with their service and with service in Kenya as a whole.

  30. I went to Java, Koinange street with a few friends for the evening. we ordered milkshakes.. what came to us looked like yogurt,even tasted like it. I , being the brave one, asked the waitress what the problem was..she mumbled something about the machine, etc. I would not take it..I told her I would go back in there with her if we didnt get proper pals, opting for ‘peace’ said they were okay with what they had been given. An hour later, 2 other joined us and went ahead to order milkshakes for them while glaring at the waitress. You’ll be surprised that she brought out well thickened milkshake with lots of ice cream to boot!!! Management came to our table, I complained bitterly and issued them with the race card. Honestly, if you aint mzungu, you’ll get pathetic service in your ow country!!!

  31. It was like reading about an up-scale cafe of Karachi or Dubai. Here, English speaking individuals get priority attention than those who speak in native languages. All of us developing countries are still under the mental slavery of our colonialist masters. Sad, but true.

  32. While I think the experiences you had were absolutely deplorable, I do have to wonder if it’s simply a case of racism. I have been to the Westgate and Junction branches countless times, “and despite” being black as black is, their service has been the best I have ever had anywhere. On reading this post, I did a quick straw poll of my other black friends who frequent the place, and out of eight replies, six say the service is good but not spectacular, and two say it’s poor. It’s hardly scientific, but it does suggest – at least to me – that there may be something else at play here. All the bes.t

  33. Had the same experience at Java Junction a while ago. Was wondering what was wrong. Light skinned people would come sit close to me and they would be served. I eventually walked out

  34. Well said about ‘miro’ hotels at the coast and being able to ride the waves. Way back in 2004 I made a mistake of planning for New Years Day lunch at ‘Forty Thieves’ restaurant, South coast. I was there from 12pm and didn’t get any lunch till 3pm when I finally realized how much further my fellow africans have to go to liberalize their minds!

  35. Maybe it’s about how one appears,aura if u will plus dress sense.if u look and act like money then your worth their effort.either way Kenyans ate generally just rude.customerservice, how they walk on the street, how they drive etc etc

  36. I have been to both Artcaffe and Onami and had good service… There is no race problem there as I am black and have been served with a lot of respect and have no complaints about it… Oh and I am not a good tipper, but everytime I go back there I still get the same good treatment… The management too are very friendly and DO listen when you complain directly to them… There must be something else to it, not the race factor…

    1. @Mel

      This is a case of a black swan. You may not have experienced it, but trust me, it’s there. Do a quick census at Westgate (racial census), compare it with averages from the Norfolk, Java & Dormans. You will see my point.

      My post was about the fact that they did *NOT* listen when I complained… What other factors can there be?

      Just an illustration as to why I think it’s a management issue, I once had an issue with Java, on escalation, the head of customer care personally handled the issue. Same with Dormans. Art Cafe? Never bothered…

  37. Personally i had a strong thing against such places, it all started with the first time i went to java……..
    Service was soo shaddy.
    But i am happy to say that Kenyanz have swamped java and made em realize that we are the population and we shall keep your bizz running.

    Anyways, that’s not what this post is about, so let me get to my point.
    Whats with this “tip” concept?
    Don’t get me wrong yes i do tip at times but if you think about it, its a little stupid.
    I live on a Salary, not on tips, a tip is an added advantage if you are a waiter but y deny me service just coz you think i cant tip well?

    Walk out of the art cafe and the javaz of this work, black ppl you shall meet.
    Black people will keep your business running, ergo, keep you with a a job at hand….

  38. DUDE! If they want to be a tourist destination, LET THEM BE!
    We’ll take our business elsewhere. You can’t NOR should you try to influence stupidity positively. It JUST doesn’t work!
    It’s an overpriced coffee shop with a view of a parking lot and shop windows, if that’s billable ambiance then I should invite guys to my apartment and charge them to look down from the balcony.
    Places like Art Caffe are for pretentious people who live in a fantasy world where they believe they are maintaining “class” but in reality it is the SMARTEST rip off ever, what’s awesome about it is the people who go there think it’s awesome. I look at Art Caffe like Caviar, it’s fish eggs and tastes like shit but the rich won’t admit it. STOP EATING SHIT! Coffee shops are places to have fun, if you are not having fun then it’s not worth it, on SO many levels.

  39. thing is av once worked as a waiter and in as much as the waiters at Art Cafe are as said to be to some point I understand their situation, in my days as a waiter the Kenyan customers never used to be polite they always complained for no good reason and would make the boss fire some of us because the guest were turning ant hills into mountains. the other thing is apart from the tip thing the African guest are never polite never say hi, never say thanks and one thing you should know is that waitering is a hard job and politeness and a word of thanks or compliment from the customer every once in a while goes a long way.On the other hand whites are always polite, they ask for things in a polite and respectful manner they always say excuse as opposed to Kenyans who call you shouting or making sounds like they calling a sheep or a cow and to be honest the overall experience of serving a white as opposed to serving a Kenyan is much much better.So you keep complaining about the waiters take a minute and change the way you relate to them e.g if they say hi to you with a smile do the same and respond with a smile too, take a second to know their names so you can call them when you need to, if they try to make a conversation with you respond well not brushing them off because they are JUST WAITERS, if there is a problem with your food or anything else don’t make a fuss about it just say your problem and i assure you it will be sorted out for you, you don’t need to shout and cause a scene over something small that will eventually b sorted out and try and tip too it wont hurt then you’ll see that your overall experience in restaurants will be amazing …that is my story and am sticking to it..

    1. I think its unfair to generalize. I’m African. I’m always polite to waiters. I always say please and thank you and I tip, sometimes even over 10% depending on the service. Keyword. depending on the service. In life, sometimes you get what you give. If you treat me like crap, I’ll serve it right back at you. I make it a point not to tip waiters who have been rude to me.
      People in the hospitality industry need to revisit their customer care training. Customer is King. And be nice even if you are having a crap day. Dont be mean to me just because someother person gave you you grief. My money is just as good as any white persons money and if one is not ready to receive it, I simply take it elsewhere. I’ve boycotted certain restaurants, not only in Kenya, but in Africa because of bad service. Having said that, last time I went to the Art Cafe at the village market, the service was ok. They took ages to bring me my bill, and only pounced on me when I got up and made for the cashier (like guys relax, I’m going to pay my bill), but I didn’t care because I had great company and I was enjoying the free internet! A waiter’s work is hard, and I respect that. I don’t think would last a day! I just wish I got that respect back more often than not

  40. Lawwwd in heaven knows, I would be escorted out of that place in handcuffs. I tip because the service delivery was EXCEPTIONAL. If it is sub par I will NOT be shamed into tipping! This backward mentality that white people or light skinned people are great tippers needs to stop. I’ve actually come from reading another review of the same tragedy notes you hit. Apparently, the managers accuse black people of stealing…..Jesus! They try that with me, and it will be “Murder she wrote”. Great review, timely and appreciated.

  41. What is interesting is that the food at Art Cafe is truly mediocre! What so many pay for is the address. I have eaten their twice and both times I could’t finish the food despite their small portions. I work in the food industry and I would not recommend Art Cafe to anyone! Now there even more reasons why not to recommend it.

  42. Been there twice. Both times left a bad aftertaste. Not recommended. Especially if you are trying to impress a girl! And “not recommended” is an understatement.

  43. Been there 4times, 1rst time was served by a tall dude whose service was exceptional and the same guy served me there the 2nd time then he went missing and the place became hell. 3rd time and the service was crap with whites/asians taking first priority then the 4th time this year (April) we got no service at all…(black skin i suppose).

    Did a little digging and apparently we blacks have no business going there. Its a pity that the young kids (waiters/waitresses) even with the little wages are polluting their minds with racism and a rush for “quick money”.

    They should not forget that they might meet any of us in the streets for a helping hand or at the interview panel begging for a job.

    Its a pity!!!

  44. I am a mzungu and have a restaurant in mombasa. mainly African patrons. I catch my staff often serving mzungus better than Africans. I am sure Africans tip better at my place. I don’t know what’s wrong with you Kenyans . it seems you are your own enemies.
    so don’t be fast with blaming the management.

  45. Africans shld not complain since the service is the same….coz you don’t even say hi….you even seat on reserved tables and you guys are very rude when you. Are told to seat in another table…..about tipping I think it shld cone from the guest depending on the service given coz even if you’re given a heavenly service you’ll always complain and you don’t tip so be good and you’ll get good services

  46. Well apparently art caffe are not alone in this..welcoming new entrants to the racist parade (drum rolls please)..Brackenhurst. Faith-based establishment. The irony!!

    1. I’ve read ALL the comments… but I gotta say, the way you treat the waiter is how he/she treats you… (in fact this applies in all aspects of life). and it’s just small things like saying hi with a genuine smile.

      So treat em well and you’ll get good service. it’s only on few occasions that this has not worked… and those now are the waitress that u can clearly say are bad (Coz, yes, there truly are some bad waiters out there)

      1. I agree I’m truly and proudly Black and African and rarely if ever receive bad service.Whenever I go out I smile at my hostess say a brief hello and surprisingly immediately I sit I have a waiter ready to serve me again I say my hellos ask after their well being and then order.Even when I have a bad day I am polite.I always thank them for the meal and their service even when I cant tip.Well I guess my parents taught us to always be polite but never stand for bad service.Last month I was at Java Koinange Street a waitress forgot my order and kept passing me not sure if it was intentional but I was clearly getting upset because my meal took over an hour to arrive to the point a manager noticed came in from the back asked what the matter was,I was firm in saying I wasnt satisfied with their service.He personally took my order,served me and apologized for my experience.Actually thats the first time I think I received bad service at a Java *flips hair* I shd hv caused a tantrum

  47. what baffles me is when you order a meal from one waiter and then it is brought in by another who does not even know where you are seated. They walk around all confused while the other waiter suddenly has selective amnesia and serves the next table of white people next to you and they get their food before you .I stopped going there unless it is unavoidable.

  48. wow guys! all this is so interesting and exciting with yo catchy phrases and stuff! very educative luvin dis coz ad like to start up a joint soon that i intend to make ‘tha hangout’ so am payin keen attention and re-learnin about yo needs n how you want them met! sometimes i feel like tha staff give bad service coz they are underpaid and therefore demotivated. (that, however is no excuse to treat tha customer badly coz am thinkin no-1 forced these people to take the job and they went in knowing perfectly well what to expect because we’ve all been customers at some point so they know how they’ve treated waiters and waitresses in the would only be logical to expect that kind of treatment while serving in that capacity. so its important to deal with all that before you report to they should be well trained,psychologically prepared and mature enough to handle customers to the best of their ability.) on the part of the customer i strongly advice that you refrain from doing anything that gives your service provider the impression that you are desperate because they begin to take you for granted. just walk away if they’re making you angry. i feel like kenyans dunno how to pay for labour( from experience) so tha bulk of employees dont take their work seriously and its a messy vicious cycle. (one that i intend to break when the time comes-like get a highly qualified team wid passion AND respect for the process and pay them what they are worth so that all my efforts will in turn have a ripple effect on the customer.nothing gives me joy like seing a customer eating happily and looking satisfied and at ease once they are done.i mean forget tips and other things.) i havent been to art cafe before but from the reviews av heard from my fellows in the food industry, its generally more expensive than the other coffee houses. in my limited opinion thez no shame in pricing your product on the higher side BUT in tha event that you decide to do so, overdeliver as far as service is concerned. as far racism goes, i havent quite experienced it first hand but i feel very strongly that you have no business setting up shop in kenya if you dont intend to serve kenyans; pesa ni pesa! heck ad kick you out of my country like mugabe if i were president and i caught wind of that kind of behavior…dunno, maybe deport you to iraq so that you go try n treat their citizens like that n c what happens. Or jus ban yo brand for good within kenya.racism is very dirty a dirty little pile of ROT! a number of people have also cited occassions where tha service wud take too long; once again, in my limited opinion i think the best way to deal with that kind of disrespect is to get up and walk away and i believe that THEY WILL get the message in time….(av done it so many times before,for a myriad of reasons and on one occasion the manager started raising his voice at me to scare me into staying for a meal bt i dint care.i js skipped right out of that joint albeit so dont owe any1 anything.think about what if just 20 customers did that in a day? all other factors kept constant i believe the staff will style up because no customers means major losses and consequently no pay for them as well. dont stay if you dont like wha you see and better quality is indeed within your deserve to enjoy your hard earned money. To add onto this,I think any rational business man would be a fool to sideline locals especially in the food industry because they constitute the bigger percentage of customers by that could mean your profits being cut down by close to two thirds yet that same amount should ideally be the standard of what you make in profits during the food production process-give or take. any individual running a business in this way is basically doing charity soap on string coz the main point of business is profit.All in all you guys make it sound easy to make money in kenya where business is concerned….simply outdo yourself in meeting the client’s needs n keep pushing the bar coz the bulk of service providers are so mediocre its regrettable.they jus get too comfy n its wrong….speaks of laziness and disrespect.i think its about time kenyans began to seriously compete wid each other as far as meeting needs is would be a totally different ball game for tha customer. Finally i believe that it is important for any business to set up fora like this to provide feedback to the service provider coz it can only make you better and and act as a catalyst in creating lasting businesses and unrivalled household names

  49. Arte Caffe rears its racist side ONCE AGAIN!

    This is a post today on our Facebook Group: Stop Racism in Hotels in Kenya:
    ” Saturday( 15 June 2013) nite…arte cafe…credit card facility was not working and the f—king white manager was rude and made racial remarks for us not carrying enough cash…never again will arte cafe ever get my business…”

  50. This is just outrageous! Girl you got patience! I’m never going to Art Caffe again! In fact we should start a #BoycottArtCaffe campaign, hopefully pushed by conscious anti racist white allies who live in Kenya! I’ve had enough of this nonsense in Kenya. But I’m known to cause beef and I don’t have the energy to drive this campaign but you have my support.
    @ZawadiN on twitter

  51. hmm…so i can walk in, abuse their internet and walk out without paying a thing? that doesn’t sound like such a bad deal.

  52. This art caffe has become so notorious n the managements laxity is wanting….last night i saw HABIDA’s rant abt her tek away from that place wich was neatly packed until she opened it???her wings hd literally been biten off?so disgusting…even celebs hvnt bn spared

  53. I agree with, bad service, no tip. But there are also a few Kenyans out there spoiling for the other ones. They never tip at all. Simple solutions
    1. Management needs to retrain employees. Remind them that, any business is good business regardless of color. Perhaps give incentives too
    2. Kenyans or Africans for that matter. Go in with a positive attitude. Put aside everything you have read about all the racist establishments. A smile goes along way. Tip as much as you can. Make a good name for us all. If service was bad, let that waiter or waitress know upfront. Give them a small tip to shame them.

    Anyhoooo to digress. My experience at Nakumatt. I’m half white half black. My half sister is pure Kenyan. Love her to death. It took me an hour and a half to decide which formula to get my 4 month old baby. Don’t laugh at me. Thing is, while visiting my family, I packed one less formula for our stay. Unfortunately, Kenya doesn’t sell the formula my infant has been on. So imagine cross checking the ingredients that are closest to the formula i use on the slow safaricom Internet. Needless to say, by the time I looked around, we were surrounded by about 15 workers some pretending to clean, others “restocking r reorganizing” shelves (no carts for restocking and shelves were in order)

    After almost 8 years of thinking I had returned to a new modern mentality Kenya, my heart sunk at that moment. But on my mind was my infant. I needed to find him the best milk since he had completely refused breast milk. So I kept smiling. Not saying a word to my wry sensitive sister who was busy chatting with her bf. I didn’t want to create a hatred seed in her. Her teenage self would have acted a whole other direction. Mind you, this formula nakumatt stocks are the bottom of the bottom and have alarm seals all around. Ooooh well, I ended up shopping more just to put shame on them. Spent about Kshs 70K.

    When I returned for final shopping, you should have seen some of those moffos trying to help me. I had marked their faces. I wanted to say something. I held back. Just nodded and was like “I’m fine…”

    So what talks? Money or color. They can smell or see it from a mile. Such a sad world.

  54. Omg saw this story last year bt dint bother to comment my experience bt if it’s still happening it needs to be out their. I had a friend of mine visiting from Nigeria and he was staying in Lavington so he decides we have a meal and drinks at Art Caffe at Junction. I was a bit late and found him already ordered for his meal so I seat down and this lady takes her sweet time to come and ask me what I wanted first of all. Then coz I was already late getting their dint wanna go thro the menu instead I asked her what’s special for the day that I can have and she goes like i should check the menu for various options and am like I dnt wanna do through all that can you simply tell me what’s special for the day or a quick menu that am assuming all waiters should have everyday off head! Nwei she never did and had to go ahead and order what my friend had. I was mad at the poor service and am normally the kind of person who wouldn’t stand for such but my friend asked me to let it slide.

  55. Sadly also happens in Java – The Java in Galleria to be specific. You will wait for a menu for several minutes, when a foreigner of white skin descent walks in they rush to serve them almost trampling each other in the process. Its a pity really our minds are still colonized.

  56. This Artcafe Racism thing burning thru the internet… This, “Stop going there” argument..or worse..this “Stop going there, or accept and move on” argument misses the point.

    I don’t want to stop going places..i want better service. (plus, lol..i doubt they’d notice my absence much anyway)

    The point isn’t to avoid injustices, it’s to stop them. Have an impact…unfortunately, wall posts and retweets won’t have much impact either…

    If someone out there is really burning, and has felt this treatment personally… pick up Our Constitution (that we voted for) and throw it at them with all you can muster.

    Courts, lawsuits, punitive damages.

    I could get behind something like that.

  57. Really !!!! so maybe if we all stopped going to the Artcaffee they would have to hand out flyers to all the oh so well tipping white people in the streets.I find it ridiculous that the same society that will complain about racism are the same people who would discriminate amongst themselves.Quite an Oxymoron or maybe just too many morons ..

  58. do not bother going to JAVA junction. once i have ordered, then waited for about 20mins, then the same waiter came to ask me again if i have ordered. haha. and this also happened to some white guys behind me. at least they do not discriminate. hahaha oh plus was served with a muffin with strings in it..

  59. It really is time to boycott Art Caffe. Much as people might want to say it is about the tipping, I believe it is not. There are a several restaurants where you will not receive this kind of service because management makes sure it doesn’t happen. You will not get this kind of service at Onami and if you do, it will be a one off incident and they will apologise and try and compensate you in the case that it does. There is never an excuse to give bad service. If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. It is a service industry for goodness sake – if you do not have the balls to deal with all sorts of people who will walk into a cafe (with all their buggage and characters) don’t be a waiter! I tip, but I will never tip any bad service and I can assure you that there is no white person who will tip for mediocre service either! Who are they kidding.
    Having said that, Art caffe has no interest in having black customers but they are legally not allowed to post the sign up so they CHOOSE to ignore us when we cry foul. There are places with better salads, better sandwiches, most definitely better pastas in this city. No need to insist on going where you are not wanted. I will never go there again.

  60. i Think the Art Caffe at westgate this evening was already low on customers…spread the news to your White friends and dont go there…very many nice restaurants at the same malls with excellent service!!!

  61. I say don’t boycott the place instead if you need to have a meeting in Westlands and don’t necessarily want to eat something what a better place than a restaurant that will not bother you and you can sit for two hours and then leave, and if they do bother to serve you just order the cheapest thing they have like a house coffe and seeing as they will not give you good service anyway don’t leave a tip. Go and fill their seats and just sit and go on with your business and when you’re hungry go and eat somewhere they will give you good service. When the whites come there will be no space for them and they will move on to another establishment. Let’s see them ignore us then.

  62. One year later people get to notice. Went there once but the good thing is that someone had booked the place for an event so didn’t notice this. Never gone back you know kuzoea Sanford is a bad thing. But they should really just leave Kenya and those employees talk of being brain washed, even denying your fellow countrymen service thats worse.

  63. ive read all these comments!very interesting discussion i wuldnt knw where to begin bt here is my experience:
    the staff at the artcafe vima branch are very nice. kaboro try goin there just to investigate ul see wat am saying. i’ve been there soo many times n the service wasnt bad at all even tho many times i did not tip. i think the westgate staff are the ones with issues i went there once n i left very angry i didnt even sit the waiters didnt even bother to show us a table coz its was packed and they just gave us funny looks like we were lost or something..

  64. Just saw this and had to share

    #BREAKING happened this morning today in Kenya. #RACISTArtCaffe Names redacted to protect the innocent. #BoycottArtCaffe

    “A friend of mine i.e Ms. K M has just messaged me and told me Art Caffe has had her brother Sam arrested . The owner told him he cannot buy many croissants because he is black !!!!!! Sam made noise and the racist buffoon called the diplomatic police ; he is now at Gigiri Police Station !!!!! I am ready to demonstrate !!!!”

    Note the owners of this cafe are Israeli. Racism and discrimination are illegal in Kenya yet there are those who believe it should continue in the old colonial manner and also bring it up a level by trying to be arrogant and believing police will do their dirty work for them. This is not the Kenya we want. We are taking back our country piece by piece. We have had enough of it being sold, its people mistreated as third class citizens and its govt not doing anything but abetting all the above. Enough is enough. They should Expect Us ! Pls share with others. Thnx for your support.

  65. btw do politicians go to these places that treat black people badly? because that can surely lead to a debate in parliament or a revocation of their

  66. Hi Kabogo, I think I met with you when I used to work at Artcaffe, sorry you managed to have another bad experience. I think there are some interesting observations here, and I think there is a massive gap in the understanding of this debate: the racism is Kenyan on Kenyan…..It is not by any means supported by the ownership nor management of this restaurant. The fact is, for the most part, when you are polite and positive towards others, you will be treated the same by them. When I walk into a restaurant, anywhere in the world, and I am not served, or I’m treated like crap, or taken for a ride, because it DOES happen….white people get bad service too…..we just don’t take it as racist, we just see it as bad service….sometimes it’s good to do research in a neutral way and not walk into a supposed “investigation” with a pre-existing intent. I try to stay open minded about these things, and it actually hurts me to read some of the ignorant and traumatic comments that are posted here and in other locations, because it shows a society that is traumatised by history, has a lot to work out, and has a lot of anger and ignorance, and does not appear to show any evidence of opening up their hearts and minds to healing. NO ONE from the rest of the world cares about the colour of your skin. Business people are driven by sales……not colour of skin. Look at your own fellow citizens, and then you’ll find answers. I LOVE Kenya…..I have invested all I have here, I have lived here for 10 years, and I ain’t goin’ nowhere….so let’s fix this and not point fingers.

    1. It would be just bad service if there weren’t this many complaints about the place. It is not JUST bad service. It goes a whole lot deeper. Why? Because there have been numerous complaints made to management over a few years and nothing has ben done about it. That then makes it discrimination that is condoned by management. Granted, the restaurants employees are not smart enough to think that bad service impacts whether or not they get tips, but bottom line, Management encouraged this kind of behaviour by doing nothing about it. How it comes out? RACIST. Whether or not they really are becomes moot. They need to deal with the repercussions now and fix it

  67. knew there was a reason I was loathe to go/eat/meet up with/or anything, at ArtCafe, the VERY few times I have been there, I always had a weird vibe… give me Dormans any day!!

  68. Sigh! happened to us too. so after waiting for over 30mins before anyone even glanced at us -& the order taking another hour to come….my patiennce had been really tested. My friend who is ”a black southafrican” didn’t seem as bothered -anyway it finally came… when we were done my friend decides to tip them 200bob…eeer for what? Let’s just say -i unapologetically took back the 200 soc..and let out a small sorry as we walked out! it’s ok i don’t plan on going back there.

  69. reading all the post I am scared by how quickly thoughts deteriorate againts “juguns”, muzungus” or whatever you call “us” !! I am originally from tunisian but to Kenyan’s eyes I am still a muzungu!!! I had myself issue in some artcaffe, strange because it is more or less same you are sharing folks, meaning, waiting time very long, not very friendly staff, why ? don’t know, but never occured that it was because of my “race” skin color or so !!! by the way I am tanned, definitely not white !!! I met beautifull people here in Kenya, whichever race, doesn’t matter for me, but “racism” whaouuuu it is huge here against “white” people, not happy having us aroung and spending our money in your country, well sorry to say so but then ask your governement to kick all the business that doesn’t belong to Kenyan, and also remove the UN from Nairobi, then what ? a xxx thousand of people left without jobs ? We face the same in europe, thinking that the “strangers” are always the ones to blame, shame on them, those stupids folks that have an open mind to live their lifes abroad going through rught time but being on the otherside very happy to meet and discover new cultures !!! please don’t let bad experiences taking over what make you nice ! and welcoming ! I spent 5 years in your country, and on my way leaving it, 2 kids born here, 3 raised only here, I don’t want them to think that Kenyans hate “white” people, and I like Kenyans ! last thought, if you dislike a place, just don’t go back there, I don’t get it, why insisting ? When I had bad experience I said it clear and loud, and at the end, I didn’t go back to spend my money there ! wish you all a peacefull year, please keep open minded, and stop talking about “juguns” like we awere just “shit” ! we are all humans beings !

    1. Read through the post again. My issue is with the staff – they clearly articulated that they discriminate. Read through the comments, another employee says as much.

    2. I think Yeta has it twisted. This blog is not about ‘jungus’. Its about the staff at the art-caffe. Carefully read through the posts, Yeta. There are two issues here, bad service and plain old racism. My last experience at Art Caffe Village Market wasn’t all that bad, I got what I ordered and wasn’t attended to again until the waitress saw me getting up to leave, over an hour after i was done with my meal, I didn’t mind though because I was enjoying the free wi-fi. However, I have had experiences where I waited for almost half an hour and someone of a different race walks in and they have like 3 waiters tripping over themselves to serve them even before they are seated. Coincidence? The popular belief is that foreigners tip better. There may be some truth in that, but I personally tip where I have received good service. Emphasis on ‘where I have received good service’ I am always polite to waiters as well- I respect them. Its not an easy job. Bottom line, you can’t ignore the element of racism here. When someone treats you badly because of your race, because of some stereotype attached to it or for whatever reason, its racism. Yeta, you had the option of ignoring these posts and simply not visiting the page again because you don’t agree with what is being said or what you think is being said here, but you chose to voice your experience and your opinions and they are appreciated. So please let others do the same.

      1. @Mona, and Kaboro : I read perfectly the previous posts, anyway yes we are all free to share bad experiences, I just noticed how quickly yu “excuse” a bad staff attitude thinking that it is the color of your skin that makes all the difference. You should read also better my post, I have done comments on your blog because it was open, no problem I am out of it !

        1. @Yeta – There’s a staff member who explicitly says it’s racial… check the comments… We are not contriving this…

  70. Flipping through the comments hare i just got tone round clear message: Its either the staff of art caffe aren’t paid enough so they overemphasis on tips to make ends meet or they are trained to to have ethis mediocre way of thinking which is a problem with the colleges they went through. The management should move fast to stem this simple logic dictate if i walk into a coffee shop i know i can afford the services there so i deserve to get value for my ‘cents’.

  71. I have had countless horrible experiences of racism in Kenya its a wonder, just to name the out rightly racist ones at Jacaranda hotel the staff couldn’t imagine that I could pay for the hotel room and harassed me as I exited prolly thought I was a prostitute, and at Medditeraneo the Italian owner talked to all 4 mzungus I was dining with, got each them a drink on the house but he didn’t seem to see me right there in between the them and at a Polish event at Wesgate some mzungu caterer was serving cocktail biting’s at some and skipped my dad and I he was only serving mzungus… TO ALL THE RACISTS IN KENYA GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY AND STAY THERE!!! AND TO THE KENYAN RACISTS AGAINST THEIR OWN SHAME ON YOU!!!! My hope is that Artcaffe will serve as an example to the rest!

  72. Wow, thought they were confused when they brought me house coffee instead of a latte and tried to cover up. Had to explain that I actually know the difference glad to see am not alone am guessing if you black you dont know what you asked for and they can pocket the difference 🙁 needless to say, I dont have to go there again and I do tip quite generously when happy!

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