Crystal’s African Foods & Gifts ‘Goes Beyond the Cassava Leaf’
Roughly 9,000 miles separate Liberia from Minnesota, but people in the northwest suburbs don’t have to travel far to get a taste of West African cuisine.
Here, customers can eat favorites like pepper soup, collard greens or fish; among other delicious offerings.
The restaurant has already become a fan favorite.
“I like the service and it’s a nice vibe, and I really enjoy the food,” said Jasmine Pearson, a customer. “There’s not too many places like this with this type of food.”
The service is one of the things that sets the restaurant apart. Nah said she likes to add a personal touch to her interaction with customers.
“You know, people like to be recognized,” she said. “So, we make it a point to remember their names, remember their preferences. You know, to know what they like. Make conversations. Go beyond the cassava leaf and the potato grains and we talk a little about family.”
When African Foods and Gifts first opened, it was primarily a retail store.
However, the deli brought in more of the business, so Nah transitioned from being less of a store and more of a restaurant. She made this move right before the start of the pandemic.
“We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs, yeah,” Nah said. “But God has been good to us overall.”
The good food, combined with Nah’s dedication to customer service, has helped the restaurant thrive when many others have been forced to close over the last couple years.
“You know, people come because, again, they feel welcomed, they feel respected,” she said. “I mean, they’re getting their monies’ worth.”
It’s a good value that also comes with a sense of comfort.
“It makes you feel good,” said Pearson. “Fills you up.”