Interview: Griff from the Meze Fresh Burrito Bar

Griff from Meze Fresh

I’ve been hearing about this phantom burrito place for what seems like well over a year now and it looks like it’s finally here! Rejoice! I thought it would be interesting to chat with Griff, the brains behind this wonderful idea. Meze Fresh is located on the same road as Shokola Lite… big, bright green building that can’t be missed. Follow the smell of burritos. Review coming soon! That photo up there was taken by Mark Darrough. Check out his amazing website Portrait Rwanda.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 25 years old and hail from Santa Barbara, California. I am a total foodie, or ‘fat-kid’ as I call it, and come from a hospitality background.

How did you end up in Kigali?

After graduating from College in May 2009 I decided to move abroad. I ended up getting connected in Rwanda and moved here in January of 2010. I worked for a year in Musanze, running a tour company for the Ishema Hotel. The next year I worked for an NGO called Bridge2Rwanda, organizing and hosting insight trips for potential foreign direct investors looking to move to Rwanda.

What do you have in store for us?

Meze Fresh is a gourmet burrito bar that combines a unique culinary experience with exceptional service and value. I think all your readers are well aware of the problems in Rwanda’s food service industry. What we are trying to do is solve some of these issues by committing ourselves to our number one passion: great food. The restaurant is fast-casual, meaning we take the highest quality ingredients and serve it in a fast-food style. I chose Mexican food because it is one of those unique food styles that seems to naturally adopt the unique tastes and flavors of the culture its in. You’ve heard of Tex-Mex and Cali-Mex, now think Afri-Mex!

What does ‘Meze Fresh’ mean?

Meze Fresh is a very informal response in Kinyarwanda which could roughly be translated as, “I’m cool,” or “I’m chillin” in English. A youthful variation on the more proper response meze neza which would mean “I am well,” in English. It was the response that I received every morning my first year in Rwanda on my way walking to work from some neighborhood kids. It represents our very laid back atmosphere while also having the double meaning of always serving food that is fresh.

Who are your target market and how do you hope to get them through your doors to stuff their face with a burrito?

Well initially I think we are going to get a lot of ex-pats coming in because of their familiarity with the food, especially Americans. But, ultimately, our target market is local Rwandans living in Kigali. If we can get Rwandans who have never had a burrito before to come and give it a try, I am confident we can get people to come back for more.

What has the Rwandan reaction been to the mighty burrito?

So far everything has gone great. We are still in the soft opening phase so we will have to wait and see on that question.

Would you say Rwanda is an easy place for a foreigner to open a business?

I 100% think Rwanda is committed to making it as easy as possible for a foreigner to invest in this country. That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of obstacles or frustrations along the way, but its getting better.

Do you have any advice for expats who want to open their own business in Kigali?

I am no expert by any means, but I would just tell anyone who wants to start a business to make sure that they have the passion to see it through. Nothing worth doing is ever easy!

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.