Jun 6, 2023 - Business

Afro Deli owner Abdirahman Kahin helping put Minnesota on global stage

Abdirahman Kahin (right) speaks to African delegates in Paris in May. With him is Efe Ukala, founder of ImpactHER. Photo courtesy of Minnesota USA Expo 2027

Afro Deli & Grill owner Abdirahman Kahin isn't just building a thriving restaurant chain, he's become an unofficial diplomat for Minnesota.

The latest: Kahin was in Paris in late May, helping promote the state as the host for the 2027 World's Fair Specialized Expo.

  • He presented to an audience of diplomats and delegates from African countries who will cast votes to decide which of five international cities gets to host the expo.

Catch up fast: Kahin, who was born in Somalia and raised in Djibouti, opened the first Afro Deli in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in 2010. He's since added locations near the University of Minnesota and in the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

  • He told Axios he's planning to open another eatery in a new building near Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue in late 2024 or early 2025. He's also targeting Burnsville Center for a restaurant in 2024 or 2025.
  • The Small Business Administration on May 1 named him the national Small Business Person of the Year.

The intrigue: Kahin said he made the trip to Paris because, "I'm an activist before being a business person, so anything that I can do to help the country and the state, I am willing to do."

  • He also said because Minnesota and the U.S. have a large African diaspora, the expo would provide opportunities for African countries if it's held here.

What they're saying: Minnesota USA Expo 2027 board member Mark Ritchie told Axios that watching Kahin in Paris was inspiring.

  • "His description of how Minnesota made it possible for him to get started in business and to grow and to be successful and to give back to his community is a dramatic story," Ritchie said.

What's ahead: Kahin is meeting with investors as he hopes to take Afro Deli's fast-casual African fusion concept national, while continuing to help with the expo bid.


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