In case you have been living under a rock and just happened to open this newspaper at this page, I have some news for you – it's Valentine's Day weekend! A time when hotels, restaurants and other social places are competing with one another to see who can offer the most ostentatious package in the million-shilling range to fleece... sorry, attract couples to have a special night.
It's not just the usual suspects, the hotels and their friends that take this day seriously as a possible revenue stream. After Njaanuary, many retailers of all stripes take this 'holiday' as an opportunity to jump-start their year in sales. So you can expect to find everyone from mobile telephony firms to people selling barbed wire somehow injecting a bit of Valentine's magic into it. It's only the right thing to do in a society which focused on basics where we need to be almost trussed up and forced to buy anything that could be seen to be 'luxury'.Therefore, anything that was once luxury will be coupled with basic so that it is an even better offer to the buyer.
This year, Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday which comes with its upsides and downsides. For those who refuse to see this as lovers' day, they won't have to suffer seeing ladies walking around town in red dresses lugging around flowers. These “Valentine's Day detesters” will see this as an upside. It is a downside for those who wish to walk around town in the latest red cocktail dress to show that they too are loved – whether by themselves or by others especially those of the opposite sex.
Even without the ladies, and a few foolhardy gents in red, there has been some changes in this most awaited event by retailers. While folks have been bombarded daily by the million offers in the high-end venue, at the end of the day many Nairobians will eventually go for much humbler fair. Thus you can expect they will go to more reasonably priced venues and for many years these have been a fast-food chain called Kenchic. This is because it was famous for its good chicken at prices that won't quickly bankrupt you. It was also the one place that invented the 'somersault' chicken in town – where many were skewered and they would be dropped in an oil container in a round motion.
Unfortunately, this past week the people behind the Kenchic brand announced they will leave the retail arm of the business to go up the value chain. What this means in English was that they would now sell their product to everyone as a wholesaler.
So what are the alternatives for those who cannot or refuse to spend thousands upon thousand on a day that doesn't even count as enough of a proper holiday that the government won't gazette it? You can expect to see many more of those people who were burnt a few years ago with the quail craze to come out of the woodwork. Expect to see the newest eatery in Kenya called KenQuail flooding the market promising to give the best and most romantic meal in town. These meals will be of smaller quantities which work for a lady who is watching her weight and is highly health conscious.
For those who won't be able to enter into the quail space, then you can expect to find someone to announce the newest craze in town – KenBata. Not an eatery focused on selling a well-known shoe brand but one selling duck meat. You can expect an announcement of its unique taste, just like everything is, as well as the exotic nature of the product. Don't be surprised to see images that look eerily like Donald Duck, the most famous duck in the world urging you to check out the hottest and the tastiest new Valentine's Day treat.
It's not only in the bird space that you can expect a proliferation of fast food offers in the market. You can expect to see the next level of high-protein eateries in the market – KenFish. This will be an eatery where you can see your fish doing the 'somersault' that you are used to seeing with your other bird foods. They will be instead 'somersault fish' doing the circular motion.
Did I mention that you can also expect the KenKale which is an eatery for those who prefer eating vegetarian food? It's a field day now that Kenchic is gone.
Farewell Kenchic; we loved you but wholesale loved you more.