After eyeing the Minneapolis skyways for what feels like forever, beloved fusion joint Afro Deli is set to open in the skyway level of downtown Minneapolis’ Baker Center so soon we can taste it. This will be owner Abdirahman Kahin’s fourth installment of his fast-casual restaurant mini-chain, which has developed a cultish following by serving fare that uniquely blends cuisines from across the Mediterranean region, Africa, and the Americas.
“Finally, finally we are coming to downtown Minneapolis,” said Kahin, in a tone that sounded equal parts elated and tired.
Longtime fans of the establishment may remember that this February, Afro Deli took to the skyways of St. Paul. As Kahin told us, expanding to the Alliance Bank building in St. Paul before Minneapolis caused some confusion.
“For a long time, people were asking when are we coming to downtown Minneapolis. We had tried before, but it never worked for us. […] We’ve been searching locations for the last five years in downtown skyways.”
But this time, according to Kahin, agents from the Baker Center reached out to Afro Deli and a handful of other candidates when the former O’Cheeze storefront became available. After paying a visit to the current establishments, the only remaining skyway location became his.
Now, with renovations fully underway, he knows what they'll be able to pull off in this long dreamt-of skyway space. This new Minneapolis location will be bigger than Afro Deli Express in St. Paul – physically and gastronomically. With 36 seats and a more extensive menu, hungry guests can expect something new from this Afro Deli. The experience will feel somewhere between that of their full restaurants and the paired-down St. Paul Express location. “It will be Express – building your own dishes in line – but it’s going to have a lot more items to order.”
Trust that their legendary Chicken Fantastic, Somali Steak Sandwich, sambusas, and more will be available (and flying out the door).
Kahin estimates the new location will be open to the public at the tail end of September or very early October. Expect a line out the door when that day comes—anticipation's been building for years, after all.
705 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis