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A loyal customers take on the shameful salaries Cafe Javas pays their staff.

I love Cafe Javas. If there’s any restaurant chain that could be benchmarked as a hallmark of high-quality food (with consistency in taste, portions, and platting), exceptional ambience, and top-notch customer care; then you’d be hard-pressed to find one that beats cafe Javas on any of these parameters.

I remember a time in 2012 (or was it 2013) when the Kamwokya branch had just opened, I overheard a supervisor (some tall, big, and dark-skinned lady, probably Kenyan or something) whisper to a waiter “I need you to anticipate the customer’s needs, don’t wait for them to ask.” I was thoroughly impressed by the level of dedication Javas staff bring to their service, and this characteristic is evidenced in all their breaches in the country. The waiters are polite, seem to have a thorough understanding of the menu, and have been trained in the subtle art of getting the customer to spend more. This probably explains how they manage to attain an 86% annual growth rate, netting a whopping 1.2 billion in profits while their competition is registering loses.

“Your order comes with plain chips, may I recommend that you try our more savoury masala chips?” A waiter will suggest after taking down your order so you opt for the masala chips which comes at an extra cost. “Oh this quesadilla goes really well with avocado, would you like an extra serving on the side?”

These traits are not only good for generating revenue for the business, but this business training and ethics is good for the staff as well because it can be replicated in whatever personal or employment ventures they may take on when they move on to other jobs.

What is shameful though is how little Javas pays their staff. My jaw literally dropped when I heard that the Javas waiters and waitresses earn as little as UGX 180,000 in monthly salaries which they are expected to embellish with tips from customers. This literally translates to less than UGX 1,000 per hour spent on their feet with a smile of their faces. And they need to keep these smiles on if they’re to raise enough money in tips to pay their rent.

I don’t think this reflects on Mandela as an individual. I don’t know him personally, but the little I’ve heard from those who know him point to the fact that he’s a generally kind and down to earth person for someone of his financial status. This mostly strikes me as an issue of cooperate greed as exercised by management, maximizing profit while minimizing cost whichever way possible. Knowing that even if you offered as little as UGX 100,000 there’ll still be someone desperate enough to take up the job.

I don’t expect to get a response to this, but it’s my hope that whoever manages the Javas social media pages forwards this message to their superiors and let them know that the people on social media have heard about this 180k pay, and are starting to feel a certain way about their favourite restaurant chain.

We appreciate that you provide employment to hundreds (if not thousands of young people), but like someone said, it’s not just about employment, but the quality of employment as well.

We love the food and the attention you pay to it, we only pray that you pay the same attention to the people in the background. Surely you can afford to.

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What do you think?

Written by Rogers Balamaga

I eat, I cook & write. I also do lawyerly work so I can afford to eat & cook. rogersbites.com

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