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Dansaki Afro-Caribbean restaurant to open at Elwick Place leisure complex in Ashford

An Afro-Caribbean restaurant featuring a tapas lounge and bar is to open at a multimillion-pound leisure complex.

Dansaki is to fill one of the empty units at Elwick Place in Ashford town centre, joining Macknade Fine Foods and a 24-hour gym.

Owner Funmi Aina says her restaurant will offer Afro-Caribbean and continental cuisine, catering for about 110 diners.

Dansaki will fill unit six at Elwick Place
Dansaki will fill unit six at Elwick Place

The chef and businesswoman hopes to open the site in December and will take over the 2,325 sq ft unit six under the Travelodge hotel, next to the Picturehouse cinema.

Ms Aina says her restaurant will feature bright African colours, with tribal patterns and artwork on the walls.

"Afro-Caribbean food is not in the mainstream and we need to do more to bring it into the limelight," she said.

Isaac Enakimio and Funmi Aina are behind the project
Isaac Enakimio and Funmi Aina are behind the project

"What we offer is very different and I think people in Ashford are going to enjoy visiting our restaurant and having a great time with their family and friends.

“We will offer a unique experience and we strongly believe that Ashford is ready for a warm and friendly place with excellent Afro-Caribbean and continental cuisine which is both sophisticated and also welcoming.”

Ms Aina says diners will be able to sit outside on the patio and enjoy a summer menu, including BBQ grills and themed drinks.

The Dansaki logo
The Dansaki logo

She says family members living in Ashford encouraged her to open the restaurant in the town.

The number of staff employed will range from 10 to 25 depending on any special events held at the restaurant.

Dansaki - which means ‘thanks to God’ - is working with the hospitality team at Ashford College to offer apprenticeships to youngsters keen on a career in the industry.

"I think Dansaki is a perfect fit for the town as it develops..." - Isaac Enakimio

Isaac Enakimio, Ms Aina's brother-in-law, is overseeing marketing and social media for the new restaurant.

He said: "In recent years there has been a massive rise in the profile and popularity of Nigerian music and culture, the arts, movies and entertainment, with Nigerian artists winning awards and making a name for themselves on the global stage.

"Dansaki will tap into that, we will feature the best of African music and art, with visiting artists and experiential themed events.

Macknade signage has appeared at Elwick Place
Macknade signage has appeared at Elwick Place

“I have lived in Ashford for 15 years and I’ve seen at first-hand how much the town has grown and prospered in that time.

"I think Dansaki is a perfect fit for the town as it develops.”

The Elwick Place development opened in December last year, but eight units expected to be filled by big-name restaurants have sat empty ever since.

Bosses at Ashford Borough Council and developers Stanhope PLC have been working to fill the spots in recent months, with Dansaki joining Macknade, Recursive Media and AIMREC - the Ashford International Model Railway Excellence Centre - in signing up.

Although yet to be confirmed, 24-hour gym Snap Fitness will fill unit number five, which is to the left of the Picturehouse entrance.

The new gym, which will offer group workouts and fitness classes, is expected to open seven days a week.

Council bosses say more announcements about new tenants will be made once "ongoing negotiations are successfully completed".

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