Jenny's Diner Brings Zambian Cuisine to Chesterfield

Feastmagazine.com by Mabel Suen

  • Dec 30, 2019

At a classic greasy spoon-style, brunch-centric diner in Chesterfield, the dinner menu features something unique for the St. Louis area: Zambian cuisine. Jenny’s Diner began offering evening hours and south-central African specialties last March in addition to its longstanding set of breakfast and lunch items, which are available all day.

Betty Phiri-Chibwe currently co-owns the 55-seat diner with her husband, Oliver Chibwe, as well as with their longtime friends Able and Hilda Chiteshe. All are natives of Zambia. Betty first came to know Jenny’s Diner as a regular customer and after seeing a job opening there, applied to work as a cashier and eventually as a server.

After three years serving on the staff, Betty left to open her own restaurant in Urbana, Illinois: Stango Cuisine. The eatery debuted in 2017, and according to Betty, is the first restaurant in the United States to offer Zambian cuisine. All the while, Betty remained good friends with the owner of Jenny’s Diner, Nurcan "Jenny" Akcay, who served as a business mentor.

“Late last year, Jenny hinted that she was getting fatigued after running the diner for seven years. She sold us the diner, and we took it over in November 2018,” Betty says. “We decided to add Zambian meals here because we’re trying to introduce this style of food to people.”

A selection of mainstays from the menu at Stango Cuisine featured on the dinner menu at Jenny’s Diner include highlights such as beef stew and chicken curry – a dish that is a Christmas tradition in Zambia. According to Betty, the homestyle savory dishes are slow-cooked with seasonings and spices such as ginger, garlic and turmeric.

Another specialty is a Hungarian sausage, a specially made pork-based sausage that is a popular Zambian street food. The entrees are all served with your choice of curry rice, stewed sweet potatoes or nshima – a polenta-like Zambian staple prepared with cornmeal and water – and a choice of beans or greens. Going forward, Betty hopes to expand the menu to include specials such as oxtail and fresh-squeezed ginger juice.

“My aim is for people to come experience and learn about Zambian food,” Betty says. “Some day, I want it to be well-known enough for people to say ‘Let’s have Zambian tonight.’”

The breakfast and lunch menus are available all day. Choose from popular picks such as Betty’s daytime go-to: a farm skillet with home-fried potatoes, two eggs, sausage, onions and green peppers. Some newer offerings include ChiChi’s beef pies in a golden-brown pastry crust, plantains, twice-fried chicken wings and beignets.

Jenny's Diner is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6am to 8pm and Sunday from 6am to 2:30pm.

Jenny's Diner, 45 Forum Shopping Center, Chesterfield, Missouri, 314.548.1001, jennydiner.com

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45 Forum Shopping Center

Chesterfield, MO 63017

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