Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

African restaurants score Jets business

Hockey fans devour ethnic food, beer

  • Print

Robel Arefaine grew up a soccer fan in Ethiopia but after 11 years in Winnipeg, he has come to love the national game of his adopted homeland.

Especially when it puts money in his pockets.

The co-owner of Kokeb Restaurant on Ellice Avenue said business has picked up since the return of the NHL to Winnipeg last fall. Some of the favourite items on his menu, including injera, a pancake-like bread filled with stews, salads and vegetables such as split peas and corn, as well as his lamb, beef and chicken dishes, don't have the mass-consumption appeal of Boston Pizza or Moxie's, but hockey fans with refined palettes have gladly come by to nosh before heading off to the MTS Centre to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets.

And fans without tickets can sit in its 65-person lounge to watch the game on a big-screen TV and sip on Bedele beer, an Ethiopian brew he special-orders through the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.

"The Jets are good for business," Arefaine said.

Bedele is popular with his African customers who want a taste of home, but it's the Canadians who put the biggest dent in the 26 boxes he last ordered.

"When I give (Canadians) the menu, they ask, 'Do you have beer from your country?' They want to taste it. Within one month, the Bedele was gone," he said.

Mesfin Kahsay, owner of Modern Restaurant, just a stone's throw away from the MTS Centre on Portage Avenue, has become a hockey fan, too. His one-year-old eatery is full of hungry fans before, during and after games.

"The Jets help big-time," he said.

Both restaurateurs say Winnipeg's multiculturalism is a big reason why they can make it in the restaurant business. Kahsay said running a restaurant is a way to capitalize on his heritage and one whiff of his chicken stew will tell you his eatery is nothing like the Tim Hortons or Subway outlets across the street.

"We are not a franchise. We try to survive by making different kinds of food. Everything is fresh. Everything we do is from scratch," he said. "All of my life, I worked in a restaurant. This is the first time that I've owned one."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2012 0

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets this week - Game 2 with Tim and Gary

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A one day old piglet glances up from his morning feeding at Cedar Lane Farm near Altona.    Standup photo Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press
  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

  • Africa edition

    Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.

  • China edition

    Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.

  • Germany edition

    German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.

  • Iceland edition

    Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.

  • Italy edition

    Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).

  • Latin America edition

    It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.

  • Middle East edition

    When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.

  • Philippines edition

    A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.

  • South Asian edition

    As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.

  • Ukraine edition

    Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.

  • United Kingdom edition

    Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google