Nestled within the heart of Seattle, a petite eatery has not only tantalized the palates of Kenyan expats but also captured the affections of food aficionados.
Lims Nyama Choma, under the proprietorship and operation of John Kamau Karanja, has emerged as a vibrant epicenter for Kenyan gastronomy in the United States.
The journey to this achievement was anything but smooth.
Originating from Limuru, Kenya, Karanja encountered a slew of obstacles prior to establishing his culinary haven in the US.
From toiling as a plumber in South Sudan to peddling curios in South Africa and Zambia, Karanja tirelessly labored to make ends meet.
However, fortune bestowed its favor upon him when he secured the green card lottery in 2013, allowing him to transport his expertise to Seattle and chase his ambitions as an entrepreneur.
The Genesis of Lims Nyama Choma
Karanja’s culinary prowess and his fervor for Kenyan fare promptly garnered acclaim when he masterfully prepared nyama choma (grilled meat) at a friend’s gathering, receiving effusive accolades from attendees.
“Once, at a friend’s event, I prepared nyama choma for them, and their contentment was beyond measure. Days later, I started receiving numerous calls from diverse quarters, all requesting my nyama choma, albeit for a fee,” he reminisced.
Empowered by this encouraging response, Karanja resolved to immerse himself in the realm of culinary enterprise.
He began to receive requests for nyama choma catering at various occasions, thus marking the commencement of his odyssey as a restaurateur.
With unwavering support from his kin, Karanja cultivated Lims Nyama Choma into a genuine family enterprise.
His spouse, Caroline Kamau, took up the mantle of head chef, ensuring the integrity of the flavors.
Meanwhile, his progeny, Simon Kamau and Steve Kamau, contributed their talents as a waiter and an accountant, respectively.
In synergy, they conjured an unforgettable dining experience, melding their combined expertise to deliver a taste of their homeland to their patrons.
Surmounting Challenges and Carving a Niche
Erecting a business on American soil presented Karanja with its own array of hurdles.
Navigating the intricacies of regulatory compliance and licensing proved arduous, yet his tenacity stood unswayed.
Karanja’s unwavering commitment to providing an authentic Kenyan encounter bore fruit, drawing a diverse clientele encompassing Kenyan expats, South Africans, and even individuals from non-African backgrounds.
Swiftly, Lims Nyama Choma morphed into a sought-after destination, proffering a slice of Kenya and an oasis of solace for those distanced from home.
Operational throughout the week, from Tuesday to Sunday, Lims Nyama Choma has evolved beyond a mere eatery.
It has metamorphosed into a congregation point for the Kenyan community in Seattle, nurturing a sense of camaraderie and familiarity.
The delectable essence of Kenyan cuisine, entwined with the genial hospitality and authentic ambience, has elevated it to a preferred venue for Kenyan gastronomes who yearn for a taste of their homeland and a nexus to connect with fellow compatriots.
“Individuals like me, primarily strivers, find a snug fit here, as opposed to the affluent. This is where I secured my first Ksh1 million, affirming it as a splendid opportunity for those fueled by determination,” remarked Kamau.