My mother, Eleanor Byarugaba Kembabazi, started the Kembabazi Catering business in 1982 after return of her family from Germany.
But unfortunately, she is no longer with us though we celebrate her life and her journey.
She had studied Catering abroad and on her return, took a risk and run with it opening her first location in
The journey of Kembabazi Restaurant began from a single room location in Wandegeya on Biashara Street serving a handful of people a day to its present-day location serving over 1000 plates a day.
The Wandegeya location had a seating capacity of about 15 people while cooking was done in the back.
At the time she introduced hamburgers and fries to the larger Kampala market. She was the chef, head of HR, head of logistics.
In terms of character, she was intelligent, patient, resilient and tenacious.
This is also a true reflection of the Kembabazi company you see today. These qualities have also served as a testimony to many of today’s young entrepreneurs both women and men.
They have picked a leaf from my mum’s journey and applied her inspiration to their own journey. Her cuisine and infectious personality soon attracted a following with multiple customers a day. With time the Wandegeya location became outgrew itself.
From Wandegeya, Kembabazi moved to Kampala Rd opposite City Square where Musicians like Philly Lutaaya and his band played every Friday.
From a very young age she empowered us children by making us part and parcel of the business. We had to participate in all facets of the restaurant business from peeling potatoes, squeezing juice or doing early morning shopping.
This set the foundation that has permitted her children to continue her legacy over the decades and for generations to come. After a while at Kampala Road, we moved back to Wandegeya, but a different
During this period a student friendly cuisine called “Muchanganiko” or “Mucha” for short was introduced. This menu item was targeted to university students and the budget conscious spenders.
Mucha became an overnight success, and many patrons today still have fond memories and stories from that period. It was also during this period that her outside catering services multiplied.
Some of the clients at that time included Mulago Hospital and AAR. From here we then moved to Kidukuru House which was opposite Blacklines House at the time.
This location provided ample customer parking, bigger kitchen and dining area. Within the same complex was a barber shop and offices. The business grew exponentially and while there my parents acquired a large plot of land in then sparsely populated Naguru.
My parent’s desire was to create their dream business location. They tasked us five children to come up with different concepts on how the business should look like.
They collected our drawings and cumulatively formulated the present day set up with the five pentagon huts. The huts all hold significance. All huts are pentagons where each side represents a child. Then each of the five huts is also named after a child to signify presence.
The early years were challenging as she had to run a catering business at this new location while also doing construction work at the same time.
In addition, as the business started growing, she realised there was need for her to go back to school and acquire additional skills to manage her business.
First, she had to get her A-level certification. She enrolled at Excel Foundation for Adult Education for her Advanced Level certificate or HSC (Higher Secondary School Certificate).
The study program at this centre was a shortened one as opposed to the full regular school timetable.
All classes were conducted in the evening given that they were studying at Buganda Road Primary School where school children would be occupying the classrooms used during the day.
After successfully acquiring her A-level certification in 2009 she proceeded to enroll at Bugema University and
began working on her bachelor’s in social work and Social Administration in 2010.
While at the University part of her field studies involved working with disadvantages children and families which she really had a passion for. So, she developed a relationship with Naguru Orphanage and Naguru Remand Home.
This relationship has continued to today where we serve free meals to Orphans at Naguru Orphanage plus children and families at Naguru Remand Home.
She finally graduated and received her Bachelor’s degree at the age of 72. By 2016 she had now come full circle.
Over the years she received numerous awards including Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, TIAW World
of Difference Award (for the economic empowerment of women), Lions Club Award etc.
She championed providing free meals to orphans in Naguru and at Naguru Remand Home.
She empowered women entrepreneurs and provided financial assistance to families in distress. She was kind, hardworking, resilient and very generous.
As a business Kembabazi has focused on meeting the needs of our customers. We listen to their feedback and act accordingly. In that regard we have added additional services like our in-house Spa facilities that
include a Sauna, Steam bath, Massage & Ceragem.
We also have a beauty salon to meet our customers grooming needs. We have also had to remain agile as a business.
Times change and so do people’s tastes. For instance, now people are more health conscious, want
to look good, work out and eat healthy.
We have introduced our Farm to Table practice where we grow, harvest and process different food items from our farm and transport them to our eadquarters here in Naguru to be served.
We also have a Farmers Market every weekend where our patrons have a chance to sample our produce and other Kembabazi packaged products like Bushera, Ghee, Kigere, Honey, Chilli etc.
The journey has not been entirely easy or without hard times, however.
Like any other business we have certainly had our share of challenges. The most notably being the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, we had to retool reorganise ourselves as a business to remain relevant and survive.
We created a more robust online presence through redesigning our website and improved our delivery service. We also kept up and bolstered our employee training programs in hygiene and service delivery.
Going forward Kembabazi is on track for continued growth led by the children directors Moses, Jennifer, Raymond, Emily and Kelvin.
We will stay close to our customers, keep innovating where necessary and keep giving back to society through the EKB Foundation that was created in my mum’s honour after she suddenly passed on in 2018.
We want to thank all our customers, partners and clients for their continued support, and we look forward continuing this journey for generations to come.
Authored by Moses Byarugaba, a son to Eleanor Kembabazi the founder of restaurant who passed away in 2018.