Another Denver food truck is settling into a permanent storefront restaurant.
Jozi’s Kitchen & Shebeen is parking its mobile South African food shop at a 2,200-square-foot eatery at 10971 S. Parker Road in Parker. Co-owner Angus Hicks is hoping Jozi’s will catch on with diners who have visited or lived in South Africa but now call South Denver home.
“People who come, they want something different,” Hicks said. “Then, of course, we have a huge African following because they want comfort food. There is nowhere they can go to get something that reminds them of home.”
Jozi’s, which won the 2016 best food truck award from Westword, plans to open the restaurant in July. Hicks said they signed a lease in May.
Jozi’s Kitchen launched in February 2015 when Angus Hicks and his brother, John Hicks, started serving their South African fare at the Big Wonderful’s Night Bazaar. The owners built a shebeen, or hut, where they served South African-style food at just two tables.
By May, Jozi’s was setting up its mobile hut at the Big Wonderful outdoor market on weekends, hitting a much bigger audience than at the Night Bazaar.
After getting positive reviews from their Big Wonderful guests, the Jozi’s team hit the road with a food truck in October 2015. During peak season, the food truck was making about $10,000 a month, Hicks said.
Now, Jozi’s is parking the food truck to open a brick-and-mortar eatery.
Hicks said there is almost no South African food influence in Colorado. He said his Parker location is a prime spot for the new restaurant because Parker does not have a diverse food scene.
“Particularly in Parker, there are restaurants there but there are not many things that are different,” Hicks said.
Most South African food is served on the East Coast and primarily advertised as fine dining, Hicks said. Jozi’s, on the other hand, will be a casual lunch and dinner spot with entrees priced between $8 and $12.
The restaurant will have an open kitchen and no wait staff. Chefs will bring the food to tables and chat with customers about what they are eating.
South African food is the ultimate melting pot, co-owner Nadia Malik said, as different cultures have blended together to create unique dishes.
Familiar foods, such as shepherd’s pie, are altered with flavors such as an egg custard. Hamburgers are served with a traditional African monkey gland sauce, which is similar to a barbeque sauce and has no monkeys or glands in it.
“It’s really just global food,” Malik said. “South Africa has influences from all different cultures. Everybody brought their unique flavors and tastes to South Africa.”