A few months after Afro Deli closed its post at 1939 S. 5th St. in Minneapolis due to an ownership dispute, the African Development Center will get another restaurant – this time, fully owned by the host.
Jambo! Kitchen, a fast-casual eatery serving a fusion menu inspired by African, Middle Eastern and Asian flavors, is expected to debut later this month after a series of soft openings.
“We’re going to hit all those flavor profiles with approachable dishes that use fresh ingredients,” said Mahad Ibrahim, the general manager. “Whenever possible, we’re going to use a scratch kitchen. Our fries are going to be hand cut, we’re going to grind our own meat and we’re going to use locally sourced ingredients when we can.”
Jamal Hashi, formerly of Safari Restaurant and Event Center and Safari Express, will head the kitchen, churning out sandwiches, paratha “tacos,” and jambo bowls boasting various combinations of meats, vegetables and sauces.
A few of the planned specialties? The Haji – Hashi’s take on a New York chopped cheese sandwich, the Manchurian, an Indian-inspired battered cauliflower concoction on a flatbread, and perhaps most notably, the Sahal Sliders which incorporate spiced camel patties.
“Camel isn’t something a lot of people are used to having around here,” Ibrahim said, “but it’s very healthy, it’s really lean – like bison to beef – and it has a great flavor to it.”
Peace Coffee and spiced East African tea will also be available.
The transition from Afro Deli features a more open layout and some cosmetic changes to the space, including high top tables, the use of a second dining room and a grab-and-go case, as well as an influx of some cool tech.
A new digital menu board was installed along with order notification screens telling patrons when their food is ready, kiosks for credit card orders when the line is too busy and online ordering available for take-out and catering.
There will be 38 seats between the two main dining rooms – plus a conference room that may be used for overflow seating – and USB ports and power outlets available for those who want to linger a little longer. However, Ibrahim expects much of their business will come on the run.
“We want to make it so people are more than welcome to eat in,” he said. “But we’re just trying to get people really good food, fast.”
The African Development Center is an organization that helps African immigrants with business, housing and financial services.