The neighborhood behind Bole Medhanialem Cathedral onCameroon St., where Mesale Bar and Restaurant opened for business with meat dishes as its specialty, used to be a quiet residential place, hardly known for its dining spots a few years ago.
But slowly it came to boast some of the more famous eating establishments in town, starting with Yod Abyssinia, a traditional restaurant, which had already made a name for itself with its colourful and vibrant cultural music shows near Desalegn Hotel before moving to this place.
Next followed Hat-trick, a sports bar which started catering to the interests of the growing football watching crowd. Now the narrow street is crowded with cars who park on the side, to go to these restaurants on a nightly basis.
It was this changing landscape that made owner of Mesale, Solomon Girma, open a restaurant three weeks ago on the 1000sqm land located on the same street as Hatrick, although he originially meant to use it as a residence.
But that decision was not the only time he would change his mind. Although the father of four had initially envisioned opening an Italian restaurant it was friends and family that made him change his mind to turn his eye towards serving local foods, with meat as a specialty.
“My wife as well as my friends likes to eat raw meat, and they usually claim that there is no good restaurant that meets their demand” Solomon told Fortune, explaining how Mesale came to be as it is.
Solomon, who had previously run a spare parts company, Monleni, which sold Scania truck spareparts, near Bulgaria, Mexico, decided to meet this demand and finally settled on a restaurant that served local food.
He proceeded to set up five spots within the large compound to give various services including coffee, bar, restaurant, meat dishes and an area specifically designed for those that drink draught, beer.
The recently opened Mesale Bar and Restaurant at day time with its beautiful modern lighting looks as seen at the bottom pictures , from left to right, which shows the inside view of the bar in octagonal shape, kitchen and the two outside views of Mesale from side and front.
The specialty of the restaurant, fresh meat, is served on the left edge of the compound. There, customers can see the butcher’s kiosk, decorated in white, with fresh raw beef hanging on the walls. One can order their meat either raw “Tire” or roasted. Raw meat costs 179.99 Br a Kg, pricey when compared to most of the meat houses in the capital.
Instead Mesale has set the prices to be comparable to those upscale meat houses with a well-established reputation like Yilma Siga Bet with a branch of the popular restaurant of the same name located inNazareth. Places like Yilma set prices high, because the type of meat they serve comes from cattle that are first grade.
Likewise Mesale feels justified in setting the prices high, as it brings its meat from the cattlemarket in Hirna, Harar which is well known for its beef products. The staffs hired are also experienced and professional, according to the owner.
“Our meat meals are our specialty so we made sure the butchers as well as the chef comes from a very well-known butcher houses in town like Kebede Gebreweld, Wendemamachoch, Ashu and Andenet” Solomon explains. He has also asked for advice from Yilma on how best to serve meat dishes for customers.
In addition Mesale has special cold room designed to preserve the meat. The butchery house also has an electronic insect killer hanging on the roof.
The price of the cooked meat is also very pricey at Mesale. Roasted meat costs 90 Br for half a kilogram. The freshness of the meat is indeed felt when one tastes Mesale’s dishes, although no special flavours stand out to make it unique. Like most meat houses, Awaze, a red pepper paste made for meat dishes, and mustard are served as dips on the side.
Instead of clay, however Mesale serves its meat dishes on white plates, bearing the restaurant’s logo which is an image of a single red flame. Most of the cutlery in the restaurant is branded with this logo.
Meat dishes were Mesale’s only offer when the restaurant opened. It has however added fasting food to the menu, after taking the suggestion of customers during the first week.
The décor for Mesale is very striking. A stark white exterior, clay rooftops and Mediterranean style decorations give a luxurious feel to the place. The white theme continues inside for all spots except for the coffee and the draught houses. The idea for the design was the work of its owner Solomon.
The coffee house is the first thing that a customer faces on the left side when entering the compound. The interior of this spot, makes more use of colour than the rest. The orange and yellow walls are offset by the dark wood furniture typical of other Tomoca coffee houses.
The owner of Mesale has made arrangements with TO.MO.CA, a coffee roasting company established in the capital since 1953. The company is known for its exports and cafeterias around town.
This company’s presence was requested by Mesale’s owner according to Biniyam Haile, operating manager at the restaurant. .
“We have repeatedly asked their presence, since it is the number one quality coffee provider in town known and liked by many people” says Binyam.
In this coffee shop, there are also other hot drinks including the house special tea called Mesale whose price is 28Br including Value Added Tax (VAT).
Just few steps away from the coffee shop, there is an octagonal shaped bar, also made from glass walls, where fluorescent blue lights provide a sleek modern look.
“We want our customers to see the cleanness of our services through the open glasses” Binyam.
During day time, the bar gives restaurant service, using chairs set outside. This changes at services start at five pm. Long legged chairs replace the ones outside, and fluorescent blue lights illuminate the room.
There are different types of drinks found in the bar starting from the most expensive bottle of Blue wine, worth 14,490.00 Br, to the least priced soft drink sold for 12 Br.
The prices are different at the VIP bar located near the restaurant. There a customer would have to pay 10 to 12pc more when compared to the octagonal designed bar. Services given are the same in this bar, but what makes the difference is the privacy it offers to people according to Binyam.
VIP treatment also extends to those that want a private room with friends and family. Two VIP rooms are available on the right side of the restaurant, especially designed for groups of friends that have the capacity to serve six and ten individuals respectively. The restaurant is found in the between butcher houses and VIP rooms having 13 tables found in the room surrounded by six chairs each.
For those that want to enjoy the sun in drier whether, the restaurant provides a large open space. This is found between the coffee shop and the bar, where chairs are scattered.
Currently there are around 70 employees working at Mesale. Service was punctual when Fortune visited the place last Friday, despite the presence of many people who had come to sample the dishes in the new place.
Facilities are clean and materials tastefully selected. Mesale has emergency lights as well as a generator to provide lights in case of a power outage for customers not to be inconvenienced.
The restaurant also has two clean toilets for both men and women each even if the rooms are narrow. Liquid soap and tissues are provided to dry hands at these restrooms.
Cleanliness has been given due concern according to Solomon.
“And that is why we make a deal with Diversey, a global provider of commercial cleaning and hygiene products and solutions, to provide the overall cleaning products and constantly supervise Mesale” he added. This agreement will last for three months and comes at a high cost of around 30,000 Br according to Biniyam.
The Restaurant has only had a soft opening so far. Mesale has chosen against advertising because they slowly want to test their services on family, close friends and business partners and get genuine comments they can use for improvement, according to Binyam.
Plans changed however as a lot of people started coming to check the new place on the block.
Mickyas Gedion, 28, who came with his wife, Hana Asmelash and his 9month old daughter, came to have first visit to the newly opened bar and restaurant since his house is found in the neighbourhood.
“I really like this place as they serve a quality food with a fair price” Mickyas said.
“I’m definitely going to come back and have a great time with my family because I have seen that the place could be an example as its name tells” he added.
Although this bodes well for the future popularity of the restaurant, it has also highlighted the lack of parking space. As the large space inside has been taken up in the set up of the restaurant customers will have to share the already crowded narrow streets with people that come to visit the other restaurants in the area.
As for its newfound popularity, it seems as if Mesale may sustain it in the long run.
The coffee house inside Mesale compound serves TO.MO.CA coffee, Mesale tea and other hot drinks.
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