Businesses thrive on reputation, and as far as reputations go, Karibu Restaurant in the city centre's Boulevard de la paix is known for this: it's marathon, open-ended buffet.
Where else in Kigali have you found a buffet that runs non-stop from when it opens, till the stroke of midnight?
Karibu's buffet, which specializes in Rwandan cuisine opens as early as 11:00 am, and remains that way until the midnight hour. That is a good long thirteen hours running!
Karibu sits almost opposite the popular Ecole De Belge, in an old residential house-turned business premise that would do with a new paint job. From the moment that you walk in, the red Coca Cola and Mutzig beer-branded garden furniture and table mats and umbrellas define the decor, with only the cool, extensive and leafy gardens left to complete the picture. A tiled walkway leads you past the gardens to the patio, which houses the only bar, adjacent to which is a large counter labeled "Breakfast and Takeaway."
Takeaway in the sense that you can have your buffet serving actually packed up in silver foil paper for you to carry to office. For the packaging material, you will spend between 300-600 Rwf, depending on the size of your order.
Set in front of the counter is the dining patio, second only to the gardens in popularity. The sole TV screen on the premises, which sits almost intrusively on the bar counter attempts to cater for the entire gardens and patio, meaning it is a trifle too loud should you insist on the patio.
While Karibu is known for its buffet crowd, it has built one more parallel reputation: From mid morning when you walk in, expect to find a certain type of sedentary drinker that look like they are straight from the office, taking a break -a beer break, to be more precise, before dashing back to office like nothing happened.
But Karibu is not all buffet and Rwandan food. They do a whole host of other foods, including French, and the usual suspects from Italy, Pizza and Bolognaise.
Pizza goes for between 3,500-5000 Rwf, while grilled local chicken is priced at 8,500. The buffet goes for 2,500 (exclusive of drink) from the time it opens till 3:00 pm, after which it rises to 3,000 Rwf. The 3,000 f price tag also applies to weekends and public holidays. The other bonus about the buffet is that it runs seven days of the week.
Karibu's clientele is made up mostly of office workers in the outlying office blocks, and short term budget tourists from the East African region, whose main draw is obviously the convenient timing of the buffet. This picture is complimented by the sprinkling of backpackers that pop in every now and then for a Coke.