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New cafe aims to fuse flavors

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH
  • Star Tribune
  • October 20, 2010 - 11:37 PM

Is there room for another Somali restaurant in Minneapolis's West Bank neighborhood?

Abdirahman Kahin believes so.

In fact, it was the strategic site that convinced him to jump from his well-established Casablanca restaurant on University Avenue in Minneapolis to open a new eatery on Riverside Avenue.

"The location was the most important thing for me and for the business," said Kahin, owner of the Afro Deli & Coffee.

After two months of construction and a year of planning, he opens for business Monday in an addition to the green- and orange-painted building that houses the African Development Center of Minnesota.

A grand opening celebration will be held Oct. 30, with performances by Augsburg College student band members and local Somali musicians.

The way Kahin sees it, he can't miss with so many hungry mouths from the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and the U's hospital campuses nearby.

Not to mention all the immigrants and other folks living and working in the neighborhood.

The West Bank area already is home to dozens of East African restaurants and coffee shops, raising questions of whether the corridor is nearing saturation.

But Kahin says there's room for one more, particularly one that offers a fusion of flavors and, he hopes, customers.

"Ours is more mainstream. Most of the Somali coffee shops are more community coffee shops," he said.

On the menu: sambusas (triangular-shaped pastries filled with meat or vegetables traditionally eaten in Somalia), falafel, gyros and an Ethiopian beef stew called qayawat.

Less exotic cafe items include: hamburgers, pasta salads and grilled chicken sandwiches.

For the caffeinated crowd, he's serving Kenyan tea, Somali tea and Ethiopian coffee.

"It's going to be more like African dishes," he said. "It will be our contribution to Minnesota taste."

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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