Visit the Nile Cafe in Germantown and you will likely find yourself between two worlds. Just a step away from the hustle and bustle of Germantown Avenue and High Street the Nile provides a surprisingly calm and welcoming space. The aroma of earthy scents, lightly fragrant lotion and home cooking may confuse the senses at first. But take a look around and you’ll immediately understand the reason for your confusion.
First time visitors may enter with the intention of sitting down to one of this cafe’s signature vegan meals but they might have the urge to shop before eating. The left half of the Nile is a store radiating a welcoming Afrocentric vibe. Colorful African garb line racks along with spiritual books, lotions, soaps, drums from as far away as Ghana and handmade jewelry from Trinidad. You might even feel the contagious rhythm of live drums deep inside your chest. Keep walking and you’ll see drummer who is the overseer of the shop portion of The Nile, Maakheru Menmetu. Very often Menmetu is in his ‘zone’ serenading customers on the djembe drums.
“This is one of those places people just wander into and they may say, ‘Something just told me to come in here’,” Menmetu said. “Some people can’t believe we’ve been here 17-years because they pass this place and never notice it. But once they come in, they love it.”
Menmetu is just one of several workers at the shop who are members of the Ausar Auset belief system of ancient Kamet. Kamet is the country in Africa now known as Egypt. Adhering to their African roots and following the leader of the Ausar Auset Society International, Shekhem ur Shekhem, employees at The Nile Café make it their mission to share their culture with others.
Part of the Ausar Auset culture entails living a vegan lifestyle. This is why the Nile only serves vegan cuisine. If your choice is to eat after shopping or only to eat, the menu features dishes like vegan barbecue chicken, roast duck, and spicy fish. There’s even homemade apple bread, banana bread, and vegan ice cream. All meat substitutes are made from a soy base.
Customers can also come to The Nile for meditation and natural healing classes or they can stop by just for purified water. The Nile purifies its own water at the shop inside a machine the size of a small room. It uses a reverse osmosis technique to remove toxins. It is sold for just 70 cents a gallon.
Thomas Ewing, a regular, comes from Delaware to eat at The Nile about once a week. “I love it here. The food’s great and the people are always really nice.”
Whether you’re a vegan, or a carnivore, practicing Ausar Auset or are part of another religion, people at the Nile Café pride themselves in opening their doors to everyone.