The Tamarind Group has been operational since the 1970s, starting with Tamarind in Mombasa, which was opened by Martin Seex, who later partnered with seven other investors to open other branches including the Carnivore Restaurant Nairobi, in the 1980s.
”We saw an opportunity in South Africa to spread the Carnivore product, and we started in Johannesburg in 1993 as a joint venture franchise, which has done well.” Martin Dunford, the company’s group executive chairman, said.
”It has expanded to include a conference hotel and spa, a game farm, and, recently, the Carnivore gourmet meat butchery, where we supply game meat to high-class restaurants and hotels, ’’ he added.
Carnivore Nairobi started as a three-in-one facility offering space for various services, including a restaurant, club, and event ground. It initially employed 300 staff and 10 managers.
Dunford revealed the restaurant initially targeted locals but grew dramatically, becoming a popular destination for diverse customers, including foreigners.
The restaurant, however, suffered a major blow in 2004 when the government banned game meat due to increased poaching. This affected its revenues as the then most sought giraffe, zebra, Oryx, and antelope meat was unavailable.
They survived by serving ostrich and crocodile meat, as these were reared in cages and were not affected by the ban. As of 2013, Tamarind Group had a turnover of over Sh1.5 billion and an overall net worth of Sh2 billion.
In 2018, the group opened the Sh1.2 billion Tamarind Tree Top Hotel in Lang’ata, targeting the growing number of conferences and foreigners.
The four-star, 160-roomed hotel is the group’s first hotel. It is adjacent to the Carnivore Restaurant off Langata Road.
Dunford attributes the group’s success to good relationships with employees and great collaboration among the partners.
”We have been successful because we complement each other. Everyone has their strengths, and we work together. That is the importance of having a multicultural team. We have never had a fight.’’
”How boring is that? When somebody screws up, we move on. We run it almost as a family business.’’ He noted.