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Inside Lamu floating restaurant where revellers 'walk on water'

COAST
By Philip Mwakio | July 4th 2021

The floating restaurant is located in the middle of a channel and floats on pressured plastic barrels. [Courtesy]

It is the perfect place to sit, eat and drink on water, all with a perfect view of the sun setting across the ocean.

Located right in the middle of the channel between the Old Town of Lamu and Shella within the Lamu archipelago, the Lamu Floating Bar and Restaurant has a unique ambience.

The floating facility sits on pressured plastic barrels of 200 litres each, fixed on a timber frame of 36 feet by 48 feet that give it buoyancy to support a calculated weight.

Fridah Njogu, a budding hotelier who quit the NGO world to venture into the hospitality industry, owns and operates the Lamu Floating Bar and Restaurant that tops Lamu’s most visited sites alongside the historical old town.

The 38-year-old mother of two says she is a native of Lamu, having been raised and schooled in the area, under the care of her uncle, a civil servant.

“I was one of the frequent visitors to the restaurant when it was owned by Gerald Johnson.

“When he gave up on the business, I decided to take over,” Njeri says.

Fridah Njogu owns and operates the Lamu Floating Bar and Restaurant. [Robert Menza, Standard]

For the entrepreneur, owning the restaurant is not just a business, but also her dream to maintain Lamu island’s unique atmosphere.

Njeri, who is an accountant, honed her skills in management while working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) which had a long-running programme in Lamu.

After quitting her job and revamping the restaurant, she has found a unique opportunity to provide mouth-watering delicacies, both local and international, to locals and tourists.

The menu has a wide range of seafood, African and Swahili dishes to choose from.

Increased patronage

The bar has a unique drinking spot with a view of the island, the sunset or the starry night sky.

Backed by seven staff, the facility can take a maximum of 100 guests, but owing to the prevailing Covid-19 regulations, they are allowed to host only half of the capacity.

Visitors hoping to get a feel of the restaurant arrive in taxi boats from either Manda Island, Lamu town, Shela or Mokowe on the mainland.

Visitors hoping to get a feel of the restaurant arrive in taxi boats. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Njeri says that since the revamped Port of Lamu began operations, she has seen increased patronage with port staff seeking their services after a hard day’s work.

“We intend to start hosting crew of vessels that dock at this new facility,’’ Neri says.

In embracing green energy, the restaurant uses solar power from panels installed on the roofs, which run all the appliances including the lighting system and freezers.

“We have 800 watts power supply although sometimes it is not enough, especially on busy days or when it is not sunny,’’ Njeri says.

Future plans include modernising the kitchen and seating areas to give it a more appealing look.

“I have operated the restaurant for about six years after buying it from the original owner.

“I am confident that once we expand and upgrade the business, I will be the next and only owner of a floating resort in the country,’’ she says.

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