Dibora Samson

A decade ago, when there were only a handful of fast-food eateries in Addis, anyone may have asked “Whose Burger is the best in town?” but it’s hard to pick one anymore. The town has become a destination for a variety of delectable fast food tastes mixed with enticing hospitality.

Photo Courtesy: Boss Burger

Despite the concern of health professionals regarding the health impacts of the fast increasing trend in the consumption of fast food is increasingly impacting the health, hundreds of fast-food restaurants and local as well as global chains have popped up in Addis over the past few years. Behind the aroma that comes across their kitchens to the hectic waiters both indoors and outdoors, fast food restaurants have been reshaping the urban culture in Addis.

Like many service sector businesses, fast food restaurants have also seen a significant decrease in the number of customers they serve. As a strategy to tackle this, many fast food outlets have turned their faces to door-to-door delivery both via their platforms as well as the thriving delivery businesses.

Wow Burger, one of the well-known fast-food restaurants in the city has been in business for over a decade. With ten branches across the city including its branch at the prime location- ground floor of Edna Mall- the chain prides itself as the biggest fast-food chain in the city. Following the COVID-19 outbreak in Ethiopia, the company has launched a delivery wing purchasing motorbikes to give a free door-to-door delivery service in addition to working with other delivery companies.

“During the first month of the COVID 19 outbreak, the market has been down by as much as 70%,” recalls Abiy Mekonnen, Manager and Founder of Wow Burger. While the market has not yet reached the pre-COVID-19 period, the delivery services coupled with a slight change in the market has resulted in up to 50% rise in earnings.”

“Our staff including waiters and chefs fulfill every precautionary measure while giving services. On the other hand, we make sure our customers wash their hands and they wear face masks before they enter into our eateries, and this has contributed to increased confidence of customers in our outlets,” Abiy adds.

The other noted fast food restaurant in Addis, In-N-Out Burger has also been in business for over ten years. the chain launched delivery services even before the pandemic occurred in the country. Their customers can also get takeaway services by a phone call from any of its six branches.

“The flow of our customers has been reduced after the pandemic. However, since last month, it’s gradually getting back to normal. Considering that, we have oriented our staff on the proper precautionary measures, and we are currently offering a safe service to our customers.” Says Adane Kelbesa, a branch supervisor in one of the In-N-Out Burger’s outlets.

Besides the ordinary fast-food restaurants, a few Fast food startups with their unique ingredients and flavors of cuisine have been on the rise in the city. One such joint is Boss Burger, a fast-food startup located on the Bole street.

“With online sales and delivery yet unable to completely replace onsite sales, as a significant portion of the fast-food clientele stays at home, the businesses are relying on delivery for their survival.”

While the startup boasts a no-where-to-be-found unique flavor in Addis, the founder explains they have seen a significant fall in the number of customers they serve since COVID 19 started

 “Around the first few months of our opening, we used to serve hundreds of customers a day. But after the pandemic,” says Abmael Gashaw, founder of Boss Burger, “Responding to the impact of the pandemic, we started working with twelve delivery companies, and through time, we launched our delivery service.” he adds. The outlet also continues to serve customers onsite applying the necessary precautions.

Effoi, another well-known eatery in Addis specializing in pizza was founded over 12 years ago. Effoi has four branches in the city that source 99% of its ingredients locally. Common pizzas such as pepperoni pizza (Seleme pizza) and Hawaiian pizza (Eskista pizza) have local names in Effoi. There are also Pizzas in the menus that have their flavor made by Effoy’s recipes such as Chichinia, Lukanda, Tsedey, and others.

“The concept of pizza by itself was an imported one but Effoy wanted to change that fact, that’s why we want to make the pizzas with our local ingredients,” says Gigi Wubshet, owner of Effoi. “After the pandemic, we were only providing takeaway and delivery services on our own. It has been a good opportunity to let our customers know the benefits of using delivery services. Lately, Effoi has resumed indoor services at its outlets.

All the fast-food businesses agree on the significant impact of the pandemic on their businesses. However, their remarks also stress the emergence of a new trend in the fast-food sector- delivery and eCommerce. With online sales and delivery not been able to completely replace onsite sales, as a significant portion of the fast-food clientele stays at home, the businesses are relying on delivery for their survival. In fact, eCommerce and food delivery startups such as Deliver Addis have seen a record-breaking increase in demand for the past few months.

As the onsite sales front takes its time to get back to normal, fast food outlets are now facing the online sales front that has battles of its own including the still-poor online purchasing pattern among the locals, poor online financial infrastructure, and tough competition among others.

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