According to recently filed new business applications, the host of Nashville’s virtual brands and ghost kitchens, Midtown Foods, will soon welcome new concepts Kale Afrika and Afro XYZ. The concepts come from the chef and owner of Street Injera, Naimi Abebe, and her brother Daniel Abebe. The address of the location will be at 614 18th Avenue N.
The concepts are gearing up to host a grand opening next week on December 8, but once opened, the siblings aren’t slowing down on the expansion plans. Multiple other concepts are currently in the works, including a food truck and a traditional brick-and-mortar space with hopes to be operational by the summer of 2024.
What Now Nashville spoke with the Abebes about their plans for the upcoming concepts, which will be uniquely distinguished from one another: a vegan and vegetarian menu for Kale Afrika, and an Italian-African fusion will be seen at Afro XYZ.
“This has been a culmination of about a year of hard work creating these concepts and perfecting these recipes,” co-owner Daniel Abebe told What Now Nashville during a phone interview. “Our inspiration for these concepts is simply to popularize African cuisine in Nashville. We started with what we know with our first concept, Street Injera, and have now decided to grow. Everything we do is focused on African cuisine, and where we grew up in Africa also had an Italian colony, so we’ll have a large Italian influence in the food that we offer at Afro XYZ. Our other new concept, Kale Afrika, is going to be vegan African foods. Throughout Africa is a lot of vegan cuisine, we ate mostly vegan and gluten-free cuisine growing up because that’s the norm for us. We want to expand beyond the area that we grew up in as well, and we want to offer foods from the whole continent,” Abebe added.
The siblings’ idea for showcasing African cuisine in Nashville could also become mobile within the next year with a food truck, as Daniel described.
“Our original idea was to open a food truck a couple of years ago. We started renovating one from scratch and it took a lot of capital investment. Summer of 2024 is when we hope to be fully operational with our food truck and all of our concepts. In the meantime, opening at Midtown Foods as a virtual brand is a great proof of concept for us. A traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant is our ultimate goal. We wanted to see how it would work on a smaller scale first, which is why we are grateful for Midtown Foods as a stepping stone,” Abebe stated.
When it comes to the menu items, Naimi takes pride in offering only the best and freshest ingredients.
“I wouldn’t want to eat anything that I don’t know what the ingredients are, which is why the ingredients I use in all of our food is all fresh and very health-focused, like our black bean burger and mushroom burger,” she added.
Alongside quality, the authenticity of the African cuisine will be highlighted through the use of spices and seasonings across the menu.
“Afro XYZ will be carb-centric, pasta-forward. We’ll do handmade, from-scratch sauces daily with unique African spices. It’s not going to be the traditional marinara sauce that everyone might expect. We’re also going to offer steak and chicken sandwiches with a lot of creative seasonings and spices from Africa,” Daniel shared.