Since the COVID-19 outbreak, business hasn’t been great for Afro Deli.

Afro Deli owner Abdirahman Kahin packages food to be distributed to elderly East African immigrants in two south Minneapolis apartment complexes. Credit: Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

With four restaurant locations scattered across St. Paul and Minneapolis, owner Abdirahman Kahin built his business into a local chain over the last decade. It has been one of the most successful African-owned businesses in the state.

But in the past week and a half, since Governor Tim Walz ordered restaurants closed to eat-in customers, Abdirahman said he’s had to lay off most of his roughly 50 employees and temporarily shutter his two skyway restaurants in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Now, he said, a handful of employees keep the two remaining locations–in Minneapolis’s Stadium Village and downtown St. Paul–open during reduced hours. In that time, Afro Deli went from selling roughly 300 meals a day to just 60 through take-out and delivery on a good day. 

“Right now, we cannot even call it business,” Abdirahman said. “It doesn’t even cover our rent.” 

Despite the difficulties, Abdirahman said he knows so many others from his community are in tougher predicaments, and he’s using Afro Deli to help out where he can. 

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