African cuisine coming to Hagerstown

A new Hagerstown restaurant can trace its roots to a family venture in Texas and its influence to the cultures of Africa.

Dyllis Minang is planning to open Christopher’s on Friday at 204 E. Franklin St. It’s named for her brother, Christopher Bujung, who will be the chef. She said the restaurant will offer American and African cuisine, including items like plantains and pepper soup (with goat meat) and African takes on dishes like tilapia.

“We cook it whole, grilled with herbs,” she said of the fish. “That makes it really nice and flavorful.”

She said the restaurant’s speciality will be “fall off the bone” ribs.

Christopher’s will not be her first business venture. She, her husband Jacob and Isidore Fondwi are owners of Optimal Health Care, a home health care and case management service with offices in downtown Hagerstown.

Minang said she emigrated with her family from the Republican of Cameroon in Africa when she was 12. They went to Houston.

“My auntie had an African restaurant in Houston. That used to be my after-school job,” Minang said.

A nurse by training, Minang said she learned that hospital work “is not for me.” The University of Maryland graduate found that she was fond of home health care, and she parlayed that into Optimal Health Care.

Minang said she’s been told she’s always had a business instinct.

“My mom says I’ve always been that way,” she said with a laugh. “She says I was always trying to sell something.”

And she continued her hobby of preparing food.

“I like to be in the kitchen,” she said.

But she said her brother’s kitchen skills surpassed hers, and when he came to Maryland from Waco, Texas, they started talking about their fondness for cooking and that family African restaurant in Houston.

“Maybe we could bring that (African) culture to Hagerstown,” Minang said.

On Wednesday, the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County granted Minang a license to serve alcohol at Christopher’s.

She said the business will employee about five people.

Christopher’s will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, she said, and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.