Achieving the 'American Dream' has been the proverbial brass ring that most people chase in their lifetime.
In the case of Kevin Onyona, he set his eyes on establishing Swahili Village at a local basement space, offering only takeout services. Driven by his determination of introducing Kenyan cuisine to a broad audience, he endeavoured to take the hotel to the next level.
Years later, he has pumped more than Ksh200 million into setting up and renovating the hotel, which transformed the restaurant into a world class eatery.
From hosting Presidents to employees of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), State Department, World Bank and embassies, the hotel, based at the nation's capital, Washington DC, has become an attractive spectacle.
In a past interview with the Washington Post, Onyona revealed that his desire for cooking began at a tender age when he would watch his grandmother prepare an exquisite meal from a simple recipe.
Despite studying to become a priest, Onyona pursued his passion and ventured into setting up a restaurant. In 1999, he left Homa Bay for the USA in order to chase the American dream.
Onyona would later setup his restaurant at a basement space- birthing what would be his breakout business venture.
Seeking to set himself apart from his competitors, Onyona has his servers watch how each dish is prepared before they hit the floor, a requirement that helps them address any questions.
According to majority of customers, they delight in the nyama choma which entails chunks of chargrilled beef or goat that have been marinated in a spice blend of various ingredients such as coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, paprika and sugar. The meal is served with a plate of ugali.
Other priced Kenyan cuisines involve: chopped goat meat cooked slowly with onions and garlic, rendering the meat tender, lentils cooked to softness with onions and garlic and added to a masala sauce along with diced tomatoes and bell peppers.
Main courses are outfitted with a choice of two sides. Each has something to recommend it, but the accompaniment mainly involve collard greens and basmati rice.
The hotel's interior decor entails hand-carved wooden doors, ornate lanterns, and artwork depicting the African look. Further, the joint exudes a chilled out vibe with C-shaped Upholstered sofas and comfy seats.
Further, Onyona hired an African architect from New York to rethink the space. Sparing no expense, he also set out to employ world class chefs in order to give the customers a taste of Africa and the zeal of Kenyan food.
Onyona has received praises for his venture from influential people such as President Uhuru Kenyatta who paid a visit to the hotel on February 5, 2020, while attending the National Prayer Breakfast.
"A great step forward. Wishing all of you at Swahili Village the very best. Look forward to being back,” Uhuru wrote in a visitor’s book at the restaurant.