The word “hatari” means danger in the Swahili language.
Shafik Hirji says he’s Swahili and is from Zanzibar. Zanzibar is off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. It’s a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania and is known for spices, tourism, and a certain type of palm tree. It must be near and dear to Shafik’s heart, since he named the restaurant a Swahili name meaning danger.
It was an omen I should have paid attention to. Shafik Hirji = Hatari = Danger!
I went into business with Shafik Hirji on a limited basis, partnering with him on opening a new Furniture Fashions store in Henderson, also on Olivia’s, a Mexican restaurant at the Boulevard Mall. He’s also just opened the Hatari Restaurant and Sports Bar, also at Boulevard Mall. Now everything seems to be going up in smoke, or at least is heading in that direction.
One of the three Furniture Fashions stores run by Shafik (not including the fourth one that I partnered on with him) already has been shut down in Boulevard Mall. Olivia’s is struggling, because Shafik knows nothing about running a restaurant. The food is bad, the service is bad, it’s just not a great experience by any stretch. Just go there and see for yourself. It’s amateur hour.
Hatari just opened at the mall to much fanfare, but there’s not much activity going on there. It’s operating at a deficit, which, to be fair, is often the case with newly opened bars and restaurants. But let me ask you a question: Does Hatari = sports bar in your mind? No? I didn’t think so. Branding is an issue. Confusing expectations. (According to a story on CNBC, which quoted often-cited research done by Ohio State University, 60 percent of restaurants fail in the first year after opening. Eighty percent of them fail within the first five years.) There are as many one and two-star reviews on Yelp about Hatari as there are five-star reviews. That’s not good.
That’s the operative word for Shafik Hirji now, in my mind. Hatari! Danger!