The restaurant industry is volatile, and one of the most difficult avenues for anyone to start and maintain. At the African Grill, located in Far Northeast Denver in the Montbello-Green Valley Ranch community, they have not only mastered the fine art of cuisine, but they have managed to survive the sharp learning curve of the restaurant business under unordinary circumstances.
Restaurant owners (husband and wife) Theodora Adwoa and SylvesterOse immigrated to the United States in 2000 with less than a $100 to their name. While this circumstance would have frightened and overwhelmed most couples they say they “felt confident about their future endeavors,” and their “strong belief in God gave them hope for future success.”
The couple’s intuitions turned out to be correct as they are now the proud owners of one of the most vibrant African restaurants in the Denver area. They operate a welcoming restaurant that is both family friendly and family run with the help of their children, Nana (16), Maame (12) and youngest Cheneba (9). Theodora and Sylvester prepare healthy and delicious meals, as all of their meals are dairy-free and can be made without meat to create vegetarian-friendly options. Their menu includes a diverse array of options from all areas of Africa; emphasizing that “it is not just a Ghanaian restaurant or West African restaurant. We have food from all areas of Africa. It is the Africa Grill.” Items on the menu range from jollof rice, pounded yams, egusi to peanut butter soup and ugaly.
They also have live entertainment on Saturday nights, which provides an enjoyable atmosphere for guests of all ages. Located just about 10 minutes from the airport, enables them to get a wide array of both local patrons and commuters interested in diving into some delicious African cuisine.
Although it may be hard to tell from their current situation, the African Grill had a tumultuous beginning that resulted in the closing of the first restaurant which was located in Aurora. After realizing that the restaurant was not working Theodora and Sylvester did not simply close up shop, they decided to press forward by moving into a food truck to continue operations until they could fully reopen fully.
“We realized we were on to something good and could not just give up on the idea,” Sylvester says.
After pulling themselves out of strapping debt, Theodora and Sylvester were able to open a new restaurant without taking on any additional loans. With the benefit of having learned more sustainable business practices, Theodora and Sylvester were able to finance and fully operate their restaurant with the help of their family; and inspired by their faith in God.
Their success, however, did not come with some drawbacks. Although Theodora and Sylvester say, Denver has been nothing but a blessing to them, they do have a fondness for their homeland of Ghana that cannot easily be remedied. Due tothe large amount of work and the time commitment of running a successful restaurant, they are not able to take the time off to visit home as they would like to. Theodora and Sylvester are committed to the success of the restaurant and are willing to sacrifice some of their wants in order to pursue their passion.
Despite providing quality food and great service, the African Grill is sometimes subjected to fighting off misnomers about African food that persuade people to not partake. Falsehoods like African food is extremely spicy, or that it might make you sick are stereotypes that they constantly work to breakdown.
“Our food is not overly spicy, but we can make it spicy if that is how you like it,” Theodora says. The couple also has had the opportunity to educate American Black people on the roots of their diets.
“It is not as if we are introducing something new, we are re-introducing you to information you forgot,” Sylvester says. Many of the foods they serve are surprisingly similar to traditional African American –especially for the older generations of African-Americans.
Theodora and Sylvester often see Black people surprised at how comfortable and familiar much of the food may feel to them as they come expecting something much more exotic and foreign. Being next to the airport also attracts many international patrons who are excited to try unfamiliar dishes.
The restaurant is coming of age at the perfect time as there is a major residential boom in the city and they hope to use this opportunity to expand in the future. Theodora and Sylvester are enthused by their current support and take their commitment to their patrons extremely seriously. They read every review and hope to continue to satisfy all current and future customers.
So if you are hungry for African cuisine, look no further. The African Grill is available to satisfy your taste buds.
Editor’s note: The African Grill is located at 18601 Green Valley Ranch Blvd, in Denver. They are open Monday-Saturday from 11 to 10 p.m. Entries range from $14 to $20 and catering services are available. For more information, call 720-365-2493, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.africangrillco.com