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Hotelier shares experience serving President Uhuru’s family : The Standard



Chefs Jackson Kyalo (left) and Justus Chivatsi (right) who cooked sea food for the first family on Thursday afternoon, December 28, 2018. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

MOMBASA, KENYA: Rita Zarnack, Director at the popular La Marina Seafood Restaurant located on the scenic shores of Mtwapa Creek, Kilifi County is counting her luck on better tidings after Kenya’s first family took lunch at her premises last Thursday.

The president and his entourage of about 40 family members including, his wife Margaret Kenyatta and his mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta walked into the restaurant at around 1.00pm dressed in easy clothes and left at around 6.00pm.
President Uhuru arrived in Mombasa by train on Christmas Eve accompanied by his family members.
” When the President’s handlers made reservations for lunch, we had the least idea who the guests were. We set out as is our norm and prepared the best for the guests,” she told Standard in an interview.

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Rita who is a hands on boss joined her kitchen staff team led by Chef Jackson Kyalo in preparing a seafood mainly meal for the first family who arrived at the premises some minutes past mid-day.
” I am still amazed at the simplicity exhibited by the Head of State. He sat on a bar stool and would from time to time communicate with his cellphone as he sipped his popular drink,” Rita who has been operating the restaurant for over a decade said.
Rita said that the President and his entourage who included former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, first Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Muhoho Kenyatta and several of their siblings mingled freely with restaurant staff and other patrons who were at the premises.
Before the first family left the premises at around 6.00 pm, the Head of State took a group picture with the entire hotel staff.
Bar attendants, Tobby Muye and Mwithya Bush Kitheka described Uhuru as a humble and very free man.

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”We were under no intense pressure. We sat very close to him as we served him and part of his entourage,” the duo said.
And as Rita and her Sales Manager, Alice Githumbi Gacheru went about their business to ensure that all the guests including the first family were served well, the President even walked up to the quayside and had a glimpse of a locally manufactured luxurious boat christened Tin Tin Tu.
Alice said that when the Head of State and his entourage streamed in, they thought of closing down the premises to other guests but were prevailed upon.
” At one point a local Mzungu resident walked in with a terrier dog. I walked up to him and told him that pets are not allowed in here. I even told him that the President was in our midst. However, one of Uhuru’s handlers walked towards where we were and told me to leave the guest to continue with his business,” Alice said.
And as Rita and her team went about their business in serving meal orders to the first family ,Muhoho commended the staff for exemplary service.

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”You have done so well, we gave you short notice of our arrival but here you are with all these sumptuous meals,” Muhoho said adding that they will definitely visit the place more and more.
Chef Kyalo who has worked at the restaurant for the last six years said that he was up to the task to deliver good meal to the President and his family.
He prepared the meal of the day that included starters – calamari alegro, prawns, calamari la marina, avocado prawns and smoked prawns.
Main course meal for the first family included seafood platter, chips, rice (steamed), vegetables (broccoli, carrots and french beans).
These were accompanied by variety of fresh juices and other assorted drinks.

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Rita is full of praise to the Head of State for having chosen to dine and wine at her premises.
” The President is out to help promote tourism and is leading from the front,” she said.

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