By Ebimo Amungo
Sam Osemene and his team must be doing something right. A steady stream of Uber Eats and Door Dash delivery drivers strolled into his restaurant to pick up orders for clients just as plates of an assortment of African dishes were being served to dine-in clients.
Seated on different tables were a potpourri of African immigrants that included Congolese, Cameroonians, Ghanaians, Nigerians and Liberians eating and chatting over beer about their work and life in Austin, Texas.
But it was not always this way, Sam’s place started out as a grocery store for African ethnic food ingredients, but the restaurant and bar are now the dominant operations in the establishment.
For Sam, it was a major differentiator among Austin’s growing number of African ethnic food stores and markets.
“I bought this place from a Ghanaian doctor in 2013”, Sam said “it was an African market but I opened a restaurant to attach to it in 2015.”
African cuisine, especially Nigerian food is the main stay of the restaurant. And it is by far the most popular African restaurant in the city.
Sam disclosed that necessity forced him to expand the restaurant part of the business.
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“Not long after I bought this place a big grocery shop, Farmers Market, opened close by and undercut us with their prices. We were forced to rely more on the restaurant for growth” He said.
The decision seems to have paid off. Sam’s place is now a rallying point, not only for the African immigrant community, but also the neighborhood.
“We updated our furniture recently and now host more social events” he revealed.
The African Market part of the operations stock a large array of African ethic food for Austin’s growing African immigrant community. But while starting out as the larger part of the establishment, it now occupies one third of the space of business.
Sam said he has been in America for 30 years, but returns home to Nigeria occasionally.
“Nigeria is my home o. I cannot forget that” he said pointing to a large Nigerian flag on the wall.
The restaurant is adorned with the flags of other African countries.
And after several years in Austin, he is now somewhat of a community leader.
“If you want to know anything about the activities of African immigrants in Austin, this is the place to come to” one Ghanaian guest told me while sipping from his class of Guinness Stuart.
The African market and Nigerian Restaurant is at
10805 North Lamar
10805 N Lamar Blvd J,
Austin, TX 78753
Tel 512 832 5382