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Open for Business

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Around the end of each month, you start to see a few more armored trucks than usual rolling around Abidjan. They are filled with cash and on their way to supply banks and ATMs with the monthly salaries of workers who find themselves in the formal economy. Some people are paid around the 24th and 25th. For others, it’s not until the end of the month and for some, it’s not until 5th, 6th, 7th, and possibly later.

October 31st fell on a Thursday this year, which happened to be a half day for banks as Friday was a holiday (All saints day). What this means is that a lot of people are still waiting for their salaries (I’m told that civil servants are still waiting for their paychecks, for example). Which means that this past weekend was not very interesting for our restaurant. But we have finally opened the place and we are starting to see just where this thing can go.

For one, first time customers are becoming regulars. There is a Cameroonian lady that comes every day for lunch. There is the patron at the accounting office next to the primary school who is also a regular. There are several young couples that often pass the evening chez nous.

Near the entrance, we have a board where customers can give feedback. We have reset the board 3 or 4 times now and so far all of the feedback has been positive. Here is a sample:

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The closest thing to criticism here is the comment asking for more beer choices. The two young men who wrote that comment were looking to get on it and we are not exactly a dirt cheap drinking spot. But we’re not an expensive restaurant, either. Dining options in Abidjan often sit at one of two extremes: the maquis – open air, streetside eating and drinking, and the upscale closed restaurant. We are trying to do something in between.

We still have a lot of work to do to get the restaurant where we want it to be. The last time I dealt with this kind of exhaustion I was a middle school teacher in DC. But the place is open, good things are happening and we are well positioned to have the restaurant humming in time for the fete. If you’ve been in Abidjan at the end of December, you know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while now. Not gonna lie, that’s probably going to continue for a bit. Once we have a few more systems in place at the restaurant, I should have some more time to sit down and write. Until then ..

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Kerry Gubits November 7, 2013, 11:16 am

    Congratulations, Phil! Much success to you and your co-conspirators!

  • Simon K November 9, 2013, 1:28 pm

    BRAVO!!! looking forward to chowing down THERE some day!
    Best to you all

  • Veronique November 29, 2013, 2:51 pm

    So proud of you Richard. Looks like those years of French class have paid off. Would love to see you next time you are home!!

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