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African Street Food goes local

Waka, the East African food truck and sister brand of the award-winning Baobab Fare restaurant, is getting its own permanent home slated to open this summer. Waka by Baobab Fare will bring culture and community back to 2465 Russell Street, an iconic gathering place in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market that was home to Russell Street Deli for more than 30 years. Waka debuted as a food truck at Detroit’s Noel Night celebration in 2022 as a street food spinoff of the popular Baobab Fare restaurant, which Hamissi Mamba and his wife Nadia Nijimbere, both refugees from Burundi, opened in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood in February 2021. “We didn’t want to go anywhere else to start this,” says co-owner Mamba. “People here in Detroit take care of us, so this idea of bringing East African street food to America has to start here. This is home, and we are so thankful to be able to grow our business and build on our story right here in Eastern Market.” A native of Burundi, Mamba recalls how when he was a child his mother sold chapati and brochettes at the bustling markets of Bujumbura to feed her family. In that sense, Eastern Market is a fitting location for the first brick-and-mortar of the bright yellow Waka food truck, which can already be found parked outside Shed 5 once a month. When it opens later this summer, Waka will seat approximately 30 guests, offering fast-casual counter service for dine-in, as well as fresh prepared meals to go and a curated selection of coffee, chocolate, beverages, and other items from the couple’s retail line, Soko. 2465 Russell Street, Detroit


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