"As a Senegalese food maker, I feel that I have to represent my country one way or another. The restaurant helps people discover not just the food but also our way of living, our culture. The Joloff Restaurant is also a preview before going to Senegal." Papa K. Diagne
How it all began
In 1990 Papa came to NYC and joined his 2 younger brothers and sister in hope of a better opportunity. In less than a month he landed a job at a shoe store. After a year and a half at the shoe store, Papa lost his job. During the time period that he wasn’t working Papa learned how to cook from his siblings as they all took turns preparing daily meals.
Joloff is born
Realizing that time, he cooked every day for the working people in his house, the idea of cooking and going to sell them and others food at their jobs came into mind. In 1992 his wife Rama joined him and the venture for selling food progressed. From Monday through Saturday, he and his wife would prepare daily lunch from their kitchen in their apartment and deliver it to their local customers in the neighborhood, street vendors’ downtown Brooklyn, hair salons, and business offices. As word spread about the quality and taste of the food, more business came in.
As the business grew, the idea of opening a restaurant came in to mind. After discussing the idea thoroughly with his siblings, they joined forces to open up a restaurant. That’s how Joloff Restaurant came to life in 1995 on the corner of St. James Pl. and Fulton St. transitioning from a small apartment kitchen to a restaurant kitchen wasn’t easy due to the fact that he never worked in a restaurant establishment. After 17 years of serving to people of all races and color, from the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Def Prez, and Akon just to name a few, Joloff had to move from its original home to a new location on 1168 Bedford Ave.
With Joloff’s new and bigger home, Papa came with a lot more experience, preparation, and capacity for more customers.
Papa & Rama
When I see people come and enjoy themselves eating Senegalese food, I feel very good because this shows that Senegalese food can be eaten and accepted by anybody anywhere in the world.