David Kimani, a Kenyan-born entrepreneur based in the US, is taking the Birmingham, Alabama food scene by storm with a unique food truck business.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US in early 2020, Kimani’s family was able to acquire a truck and after a year of planning, they finally opened for business in May last year.
Dubbed Sahani, the truck restaurant serves authentic Kenyan dishes such as Nyama Choma, Ugali, Mukimo, Matumbo, Chips Masala, Chapo Smokie, among others. The menu also includes foods more common among Americans like burgers, quesadillas, and Philly cheesesteaks.
“It started as a dream and turned into reality,” Kimani told Alabama NewsCentre.
“Traditionally, Nairobi foods include a lot of rice and stew, but there is a wide range of different foods and flavors our culture has to offer,” he added.
Sahani, which means a plate in Swahili, mainly operates in downtown Birmingham, but can also be found on Green Springs Highway on some days of the week as well as at various events around the city.
Kimani moved to Alabama from Kenya with his parents and brother when he was four, growing up in Homewood, and later living in Fultondale and Hoover. The 24-year-old University of Alabama alumnus says his parents taught him the importance of a strong work ethic and education from a young age.
“I saw my parents work days and nights doing odd jobs to make sure my brother and I had all we needed, so from a young age it was instilled in me to always work hard for what I wanted,” he said.
“The main reason we came to the US was for the education of my brother and me, so that was evident in how I did in school. Starting me off in a top school system here in Birmingham, I was able to go to a great university, get a great degree, and eventually get a great job.”
Kimani, a data analyst for Alabama Power, joins a growing wave of young, minority entrepreneurs who are making an impact on the vibrant food and culture landscape in Birmingham.
“Being a young entrepreneur, it is great to feel the support not only from other local food truck owners, but also from people in the community. We have a lot of room to grow, but I also thank God every day for his timing and take each day as it comes,” he said.