Budding hotelier joins Nairobi’s hot fast food battle
Kenya’s fast-food industry has in recent years been bustling with activity as several international brands set up shop locally, targeting the middle class.
Paul Ng’ang’a is not letting these multinationals run the show; the 29-year-old has joined the fray, offering Nairobians a unique culinary experience — chicken wings cooked and served in 15 different ways.
His two-year-old business, called Wing It, has two branches at Galleria Mall on Langata Road and The Hub in Karen targeting clients who are willing to ditch chicken thighs and breasts in favour of wings.
“I was having lunch with friends at a restaurant in Karen and everyone kept ordering chicken wings. That is when it hit me that the idea can work very well in Kenya,” he told Enterprise during an interview at The Hub.
KENYANS LOVE CHICKEN
“During my studies abroad I saw the concept work well. Obviously, Kenyans love chicken. All I needed to do for the idea to work was package the wings attractively.”
Mr Ng’ang’a holds a degree in international tourism and hospitality from the University of Sunderland (UK), a diploma in hotel management and a certificate in restaurant management from colleges in Malaysia and Switzerland respectively.
Using his college skills, the budding hotelier developed 15 different recipes using pre-existing formula which he then adjusted to create a unique meal that he hopes would keep his clients coming back for more.
The wings, which are billed per piece, are served alongside potato chips. The business also sells burgers, salads and an assortment of soft drinks. Wing It’s signature dishes include Classic Buffalo, Atomic, Caribbean Jerk, Wicked Asian, Garlic Parmesan, Honey Mustard, Orange Sesame, Lemon Pepper, Teriyaki, Breaded, Flame Grilled Tikka Wings, among others.
“We serve our wings in two ways, bone in and boneless. Fifteen flavours of chicken wings should keep someone coming back. We have ability to give them something different every day,” he said
The minimum number of wings one can buy are eight at Sh800. Twenty pieces cost you Sh2,000.
Wing It was started in 2015. He partnered with his father to open the Galleria outlet at a cost of Sh6 million.
Shortly thereafter, buoyed by the initial achievements of their maiden investment, the duo decided to invest another Sh9 million to expand the business to Karen
“Galleria was good, still is, but The Hub has brought new competition. When we compare the performance of the two outlets the one at the Hub is doing way better,” he said.
Wing It records monthly sales of about Sh800,000 from their outlet at The Hub, with profit accounting for between 40 and 50 per cent of this amount, Mr Ng’ang’a divulged.
The two outlets sell more than 60 kilogrammes of chicken wings during weekends. The business’ busiest period ever was during last year’s Christmas weekend when customers bought 180 kilogrammes of wings.
Each Wing It branch has six permanent employees but on weekends, when customer numbers swell, Mr Ng’ang’a hires three casual workers to help out. While he is recording remarkable success with his fledgling restaurant venture, his entrepreneurial journey has not been rosy.
At 24, Mr Ng’ang’a bought and operated a food truck for a couple of months in Nairobi but closed shop because the venture, which is extremely popular in developed countires, was not viable locally.
“There was no parking space designated for food trucks. We weren’t allowed to park on the streets. I ended up selling the food truck to one of the big restaurants in Kenya,” he said.
OPEN MORE STORES
But that is in the past now. Going forward, Wing It plans to open seven more stores in Nairobi before exporting the brand across the East African region through franchising.
They plan to open a third outlet at a popular mall along Thika Road. Already, the business has attracted the attention of several potential investors who Mr Ng’ang’a said would bring in capital and business expertise needed to take Wing It to the next level.
They are currently in talks with a Kenyan investment firm which is looking to buy a 40 per cent stake in the business at Sh12 million, the deal values Wing It at Sh30 million.
Wing It’s main supplier is also set to take up a 10 per cent shareholding.
“They (investment firm) were impressed with our idea and believe that it is workable. We are currently in talks about the sale of a major stake,” he said.
“Because we will have proven that the model works, we plan to export the brand. We are looking at East Africa.”