NORCROSS, Ga. — Country: Ghana
“You know growing up, it was like, the only thing cool was Akon,” Mike Kwarteng said. “The singer. Our main sense of African pride was Akon. He was saying, ‘Bring it to light. Whatever we’re doing, our food, our music, our culture … whatever it is.’”
Kwarteng is now bringing such light by way of good food. Ike’s Café and Grill now aims to deliver its own version of ‘cool’ to the surrounding community.
“And now, kids kind of look at Ike’s as the cool thing,” Kwarteng said of the Norcross restaurant. “And that’s a fun thing to do.”
The café, which started as a food store before evolving into the African restaurant, takes great pride in its Ghanaian roots.
“In the beginning, all we sold was waakye and okra soup,” Kwarteng said. “The pride that people get from it if you’re from Ghana…that we’re showing their culture in a nice way and a nice fashion, that’s what they take appreciation for, and that’s why you keep doing it.”
“How does this dish represent Ghana?”
“Waakye is all over Ghana,” Kwarteng explained of the traditional dish of rice and beans. “It’s the same wherever you go. It shows teamwork.”
“Each part of the meal takes from a different region of Ghana,” he said. “All together, it makes it waakye.”
“How does this dish represent Atlanta?”
For Kwarteng, waakye is symbolic of the community, stretching from Ghana to metro Atlanta.
“The combination of food is what makes it a great meal. Same with Atlanta, same with Africans …the combination of us all is what makes us so powerful,” Kwarteng said.
“What my mom always say, ‘What makes Ike’s Café Ike’s Café is our community,’” he said.
At the Table is a digital series produced by 11Alive's Matt Pearl and Liza Lucas. Metro Atlanta features the food of dozens of nations. We want to eat through them all! Follow us on Facebook and share your favorite food stories.