Daniel and Selam Fikru opened Blue Nile Cafe in 1995. Back then they were located at 2020 Main, after which they moved to 39th Street before finally settling down in their City Market location in 2003.
The Fikrus were born and raised in Ethiopia. Selam says that over time Kansas City has become home to she and her husband and their three children, although it took some time.
“It wasn’t a very easy journey,” Salem says. “Kansas City was not one of the places for new items, especially Ethiopian food. But we stuck it out and included our customers one customer at a time, and now it’s so famous and popular.”
“Our customers really followed us,” Selam adds. “From 1995 until this day we see the same people coming.”
Although they’ve had a lot of customers follow them, it took a while for the community at large to go along with the cuisine. Selam says that when they first opened, many customers though Blue Nile Cafe’s menu was a little strange, to say the least.
“When we opened I couldn’t get a lot of people to eat collard greens,” says Selam, “but now I can’t be out!”
This is one of the ways Selam has found that the Kansas City community has acquired a greater appreciation for ethnic food.