CJs restaurant is one of the popular chain of food joints in Nairobi attracting a large clientele drawn from the middle and working class Kenyans. Since joining the Kenyan market, the restaurant has become increasingly popular edging out giants like Kilimanjaro and Artcafe restaurants. Many Kenyans have always wondered who the man behind the success of this restaurant is. In this article, the African Torch goes behind the scenes to bring you the story of one Ahmed Omar Mandela – the owner of the popular CJs restaurants
Ahmed Omar Mandela.
Ahmed Omar Mandela is a renowned Kampala-based Entrepreneur, businessman and one of the wealthiest and influential individuals in Uganda. The Tycoon is the Founder of the Mandela Group of Companies – a conglomerate with interests in the hospitality, oil, manufacturing and automotive sectors. The Tycoon also serves as the President of Sports Club Villa (SC Villa), after being promoted from the Treasurer position in November 2021. SC Villa is the best football club in Uganda and one of the best in the entire East African Community.
Establishing Café Javas Restaurants.
Omar through the Mandela Group of Companies founded Café Javas in 2016 with the aim of upgrading how things were operated in the hotel industry. He established his first restaurant branch in Bombo road, just next to City Oil petrol station which he named Café Javas. The restaurant would mainly target the middle class and working class individuals who wouldn’t mind to pay a fairly good amount of money to get a delicious meal. Within a short period of time, the restaurant became popular with people literally queuing to get a space in the premises. The success of the restaurant prompted the tycoon to slowly open other branches in different parts of Kampala. Currently the restaurant operates 9 successful branches in Uganda – 8 in Kampala and 1 in Entebbe.
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Establishing CJs Restaurant in Kenya.
After the restaurant became a huge success in Uganda, the tycoon felt a need to expand into Kenya, the largest economy in the East African region. Joining the Kenyan market wasn’t an easy task since immediately after announcing their plans to set up a restaurant in Nairobi, they received a court order blocking their entry. The court order was from Kenya’s Java house who claimed the name would cause a trademark infringement. Mandela had to rebrand from Café Javas to CJs Restaurant and in April 2018, the restaurant opened its first branch situated along Koinange Street in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD). The reception by Nairobians was quite welcoming and within a short period of time, the restaurant became the go-to-place for dates, catch ups and meetings. It currently has four branches in Nairobi; along Koinange Street, at Village market, in Kilimani and at The Waterfront Mall in Karen. The restaurant will also be opening another branch along Mombasa Road before the end of the year.
The Tycoon’s other investments.
Apart from the hospitality sector, Omar is involved in other ventures through the Mandela Group of Companies. He is the owner of Mandela Millers – a company that produces a wide range of wheat and maize products such as flour. He is the owner of City Tyres – the largest tyre manufacturing company in Uganda and City Oil – a leading fuel and Lubricants Company operating a chain of ultra-modern fuel stations in 8 locations in Kampala, Uganda. He owns Mandela Auto Spares – Uganda’s leading supplier of new genuine spare parts for vehicles of all ages. The Tycoons also owns City World – a leading distributor of First Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sourced from world’s internationally recognized brands from Europe, Asia and America. Other companies he owns include Savers, City Retread, City Lubes and On The Go.