SEVEN TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET-FOOD BUSINESS BOOM (One on one with Moha of Mohaz Grillz, Juja)
----watu wa Juja Oyeeee---
If you have ever been to Juja and passed by Gate A, chances are that you have seen Mohaz Grillz. Much higher chances are that you have either been convinced or found yourself going over to buy a smocha, or a smokie pasua, or just anything from his grill. You were wowed by the delicacies that are the street food, and you probably bought another. We all know One is never enough.
Today, well not today per se, 30-year-old Moha is going to give you tips on how to make your street-food business boom. How he reached where he is now, and his plans on getting further. Why every day but especially on Friday and Saturday nights you will find crowds gathered ready to partake in the meal that is Mohaz Grill. How he gets a profit of over 1000 Kenyan shillings per day from his street food business.
- Determination, Patience and Perseverance are paramount.
Moha got into the smokie selling business in 2011, when he was just 21 and shortly after he had resigned his waitressing job at Fairview hotel in Upper hill. When he started, it was purely accidental. It was to keep his mother company and give her security as she cooked and sold chapos just near gate A.
He later joined the university in USIU to study IT in 2012, but because of the high school fees, he needed money. So he decided, it’s either this business or nothing.; and that’s how he started investing in it. He ensured to save money every day and put his all into his business.
But at that time, the business had not yet boomed. He and Njenga (the owner of the CITRUS GRILL next to him) often found themselves selling to no one and just chilling with their smokies, eggs, and viazi karai alone with no customers.
It was smocha (smokie rolled in chapatti) that made the business boom. He got this idea from his mother who used to sell chapos (that he still outsources from her). Customers would come and say: Nirollie smokie kwa chapo. The SMOCHA name had yet to be invented.
The famous Smocha being prepared.
And that’s how the business grew. In 2016, he managed to save enough to open up a restaurant for his mother.
Moha says this about determination, patience, and perseverance:
“For more than three months, biz ilikuwa tu more of a chill spot. But tulikuwa tunaamka, tunaenda job hata kama unajua hautamke any sell. Vijana wengi hawanaga hiyo patience. Wanataka kuanzisha biz, ilete dooh haraka waende wajinice.
Lakini it’s never that easy. Kama juzi hadi karibu tubomelewe vitu na makanjo. Me husema, nothing good ever comes easy. Inafaa ukuwe na patience na biz yako. Uiaminie, coz challenges ni nyingi. Kwanza watu hawapendi hizi biz za Juakali. Before tupate hii spot, tulikuwa tunamigrate sana, juu tulikuwa tunauzia mbele ya buildings, na wasee hawakuwa wanadai hiyo story.
So jikaze tu na biz yako. Itapay off with time. “
- EXPAND YOUR MENU.
Moha, whose dream is to change the perspective of street food in Juja, is especially set on expounding the menu at the Mohaz Grill. Remember he started only with smokies; but by now a variety of street-food greet you once you reach the grill.
There’s the famous smocha, eggs, viazi karai, kebabs, sausages, buns, smokie buns, samosa, and burgers; all of which leave you wanting more. He would wish to add Fries and Shawarma soon to his menu.
Moha making a smokie bun for a customer.
Though he does not get much into the cooking, Moha has a set of standards that the food he serves has to meet. He insists on quality more than quantity and places hygiene above everything else. After all, this is street food, if it isn’t hygienic, let us just say we would be spending a lot of time in our toilets.
- RETAIN YOUR REGULAR CUSTOMERS WHILE ATTRACTING NEW ONES.
Moha is a man who understands that selling food is rarely about selling food. It is a social experience. You have to provide the food people love while still creating an environment where they feel comfortable, and can be themselves.
He tries to achieve this with every customer who comes to Mohaz Grill, and so far, so good. It helps that he is also young, and most of his customers are us, the campus students; so he can easily relate with us, not to mention the food is at fairly affordable prices.
Menu (images provided by Randy King Jr.)
When he can’t be there at the grill, he has people he has employed that sell the food. There’s Zack who makes burgers and a girl (who I did not get to know the name) who know, like Moha, how to “handle” customers. How to give you the best service. How to make you feel at home.
- MARKET YOUR BIZ.
When the biz was just kicking off, during the invention of smocha’s, Moha and Njenga were lucky that it coincided with the opening of a club at Containers. If you are from Juja, you know how crazy Containers can get. If you do not, maybe you should let loose once in a while.
Anyway, the club provided the majority of his customers, who would come, get drunk, have their fun; and when they felt hungry, Moha was always there to provide for them the food they needed at very affordable prices.
The tradition hasn’t changed much, even though the club is long gone. You will always find throngs of twenty-somethings straying to Mohaz Grill on Friday or Saturday night, in search of smocha, or burgers or buns or simply just a smokie pasua; food that will not affect their alcohol consumption but also “hold” their stomachs while they partake in their poison.
Moha also plans, as a marketing tool, to open up an Instagram account where he could post the variety of food he sells, and bring in more customers. He needs a manager for this account though since he claims he is not that munch into the tech-world.
A few weeks ago, he allowed a Youtube food vlogger(Randy King Jr) to film his menu as a major example of street food in Juja. Click here to watch the Youtube video.
- VENTURE INTO MORE BUSINESSES, DO NOT PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.
Moha, a husband and a father to a four-month-old son, is a man with dreams and plans. Apart from Mohaz Grill, he plans on saving up for a food truck where he can do outside catering for events. He also has a shop under construction just opposite Mohaz Grill, which he plans to also act as a Smokie depot.
His goal is to let his wife sell in the shop, and kill three birds with one stone. One, the wife will be able to oversee how the business is going on at Mohaz Grill while also providing the stock needed.
Two, the wife can hang out with his son at the shop, hence creating that mother bond every child needs, and three, the shop will bring more cash flow and fund both businesses.
- DEDICATE YOURSELF INTO YOUR BUSINESS, IT’S ALL YOU HAVE.
Quote Unquote from Moha:
“Tuliamua, (him and Njenga) hatuna njia ingine. This is the only way juu hata after chuo, the truth of the matter sahii masomo ni kama useless. As long as huna Godfather, hata ukiwa na first class uneza tarmac huku hadi uchoke juu hizo offers utapata ni za madaharau.
Sahii unezaambiwa a whole graduate uende ufanye job ya 25k tao, upige hesabu ya transport, rent, lunch unakuta at the end of the day unaworkia only 5k. “
“Biz yangu ni mimi nitadictate mahali nitafika. Biddi yangu, nikitia bidi na God anibless, I can go anywhere. Nezakuwa hadi billionaire ama millionaire. Hiyo ndo shida ya employment, employment hukulimit penye utafika. Alafu hukudrain. Me nilikuwa employed. Ni kama wewe ni slave wa kazi.
“Tusiogope kuventure kwa biz. Ni challenging kuanzisha Lakini the moment itashika, itakuwa fiti. Biz ikifika place unezaiicha, like si lazima ukuwe hapo 24/7, na bado inarun fiti, hiyo ni achievement.”
- GIVE YOURSELF A MARGIN OF ERROR.
Every business has its own challenges, and Mohaz Grill is not an exception. Before he introduced the LIPA NA MPESA services when people used to use SEND MONEY option, someone would pay less, or pay the full amount but later reverse the cash and because the place will be swamped and busy, he would get away with it.
Another challenge is the increasing prices of his supplies, especially with the recent unsteady weather and heavy rainfalls; the price of tomatoes which he uses to make kachumbari has risen.
In a day, he can use up to 2500 Kenyan shillings on tomatoes alone! Not to mention the increased prices of the makaa he uses for his jikos. In three days, he uses one gunia of makaa, and a gunia goes for around 1500 Kenyan shillings. He, however, plans to save up and buy gas, which he hopes is a cheaper option.
Due to all these challenges, and some that come up unexpectedly, he says it is important you give yourself a margin of error, though you should also try hard to minimize that margin.
So that is it from Moha of Mohaz Grill. I do hope he inspired you as he did me, and the next time you come to Juja, or if you do live in Juja, do not fail to grab a delicacy from him. He never disappoints.