Fried African Doughnuts. Jollof Rice. Tropical Burger. If you've never eaten traditional African food, now is your chance as a local woman has opened Africa Mama Restaurant in Smyrna.
Located in the Freedom Plaza shopping center at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and North Main Street, Africa Mama gives families in the area a little more diversity for dining out. Africa Mama is open Monday though Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Charline Borsay opened Africa Mama with a partner in late September with a soft opening. Borsay, who is from Liberia and now lives in Kenton, grew up with a love of cooking and even went to cooking school before leaving West Africa. Borsay said it's always been a dream to open her own restaurant.
All the food at Africa Mama is traditional African food with roots in several of the countries in West Africa. The most popular items thus far have been the jerk chicken and the tropical burger, which uses a blend of seasonings, onions and avocado. Other items on the menu include pepper soup and couscous. Eventually the restaurant will serve breakfast.
The foods cooked in the restaurant aren't recipes that can be found in a book, but are instead passed down from generation to generation.
"It actually was your mother's. Your grandmother taught your mother and your mother taught you and that's how we do it," Borsay said.
Since some of the food leans on the spicy side, Borsay said she's been asking for feedback from customers, which is why she held a soft opening earlier this fall.
"I've been asking for suggestions if something is good or too spicy," Borsay said. "I'm glad we did the soft opening because now everything is when people come in they say 'Oh, this is nice.'"
So far, Borsay said the Smyrna/Clayton communities have been very welcoming.
"A lot of people are coming back," Borsay said. "Most people the first time they try African food, they say it has a lot of flavor and it's really good."
Borsay does all the cooking and baking but does have a few employees helping out since she has kept her job as a cook with Bayhealth.
And Borsay, who's married with two kids, is hoping the community will continue to support her restaurant: "I hope the people will come and try us out and give us feedback. We're bringing something new to the community. We need their support."
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