The popular Simmers Bar and Restaurant in the heart of the city has literally come tumbling down, bringing to an end a long-drawn court battle.
The club, sitting on a prime open space at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Muindi Mbingu Street, and popular for live Rhumba music performances, has been operating for 21 years. An unannounced eviction party arrived on Friday, throwing furniture and equipment to the streets.
Amidst security from the police and city county askaris, customers scampered for their lives as an excavator brought down the structure.
The business belonging to former Kimilili MP Suleiman Murunga had been reduced to smithereens by 10pm. The land owner dragged the businessman to court, claiming he is forcefully sitting on the parcel, and has ignored court orders.
Allegations that he was using goons and bribing his way around to stop the rightful owner from accessing the land soon followed. Murunga denies the allegations, saying he owns the land and has documentation. He says as soon as he set up the bar, it became a hit.
The open fire barbecue, affordable liquor, Lingala music belted by famed musicians, some from as far as Congo made it popular among middle-aged revelers. By the fifth year in business, Murunga invested in amplifiers that would rumble with Rhumba, sometimes decorated by live performances, an idea he says was new in Nairobi at the time.
“I knew what people in Nairobi wanted, and I gave it to them,” he says. Despite the courtroom fights, the club attracted guests from all corners of the globe. Tourists would amble in, led by popular reviews they read online.
Ladies of the night loved it. The psychedelic disco lights welcomed skimpily dressed females seeking to provide services to some of the clients who made the club their place for unwinding. Despite the tainted name, the club’s popularity peaked during the 2007/2008 post-election violence; opening its doors amidst the commotion that defined Nairobi then. Barca Madule, a Congolese musician who has played Lingala music at the club for eight years says Simmers became not only a club, but a family of people entwined by their love for well-prepared meat and good music. “There were clients who checked in every day. As musicians, we depended on it to earn a living,” he says.
Murunga, 61, regards Simmers as a club that grew and developed a life of its own. “We will be back soon. Tell people not to worry.” he says.
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