Roma Restaurant – Romani Kafenava

EPEKA Association, Social Enterprise, Slovenia
Maribor, Slovenia Since 2014
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Roma Restaurant – Romani Kafenava
Romani Kafenava (Roma Restaurant) is the first of its kind in the European Union. It operates on the principles of a social entrepreneurship.
Romani Kafenava is active in the arts, in culture, in the promotion of young people and youth work, in the highlighting of Roma issues especially concerning employment, and in Human Rights.

The main target group are the members of the Roma community in Maribor and its surroundings. The secondary target group are the general public of Maribor, encouraging them to the restaurant to drink and eat and engage with Roma people.




The need for the project came from the high rate of unemployment among the members of the Roma community. The long term unemployment of members of the Roma community is 17 times higher than other citizens. Social exclusion of Roma, prejudices, stereotypes, racism, non-tolerance towards the community, etc. are all common place and make finding a job much more difficult. The other need for such a concept was to introduce the rest of the community to the Roma, their culture and traditions.


Romani Kafenava was opened on the 8th April 2014. Till now it is still open and is self-sustainable. The importance of the Kafenava and its work becomes ever more important with more and more new phenomena of Antigypsyism appearing.


The aims of the project

  • To break prejudices and stereotypes towards Roma community
  • To employ members of Roma community and motivate them to take part in social entrepreneurship
  • To raise a sense of entrepreneurship and economy among the members of the Roma community
  • To preserve Roma culture
  • To raise intercultural dialogue
  • To exchange knowledge and raise understanding between the different communities
  • Enrich the cultural and touristic offer in the city and country
  • To raise gender equality in the Roma community
  • To promote the method ‘learning to learn’ in the Roma community

Romani Kafenava, operates by the principles of a social enterprise, it invests all of its earnings into new employment possibilities. It is the first Roma restaurant in the European Union. Due to the unique Roma culture, diverse cuisine and inherent interior design, Romani Kafenava is a rare Slovenian and European gem. The Roma people working in Romani Kafenava offer Roma specialties, host groups, and organize catering. They focus their attention on each and every visitor and … believe it or not … offer the best fortune-telling.


  Innovation and Impact

Romani Kafenava as a project is innovative in itself. It is also innovative in that it connects different aspects of Roma culture; art, architecture, interior design, music, food, drinks, behaviour, etc. The project from the outset was rooted in Roma culture and remains so. Although much of the work of creating the Kafenava was practical as is the work of running it, the non-formal learning aspects are very present. Whether it be related learning about the cooking, the daily running of the Kafenava, the looking after guests or any of the other activities of the Kafenava, they are all carried out in the context of non-formal education.

Impact is a difficult subject for the Kafenava project. Despite being a best practice example on the national level as a social enterprise, sadly the Kafenava has not received a single order for catering service from the local community, the municipality or any local companies since it opened. The impact on the Roma community is strong but it is struggling to find further financial support.



  Link with the Council of Europe

Project coordinator and idea maker Štefan Simončič participated in several training courses, seminars, conferences and other events organised by the Council of Europe. From these experiences he gained knowledge and understanding of Human Rights and the necessary skills to develop the project and establish the social enterprise. On the journey many methods and activities were used from publications such as Compass.


  • Štefan Simončič


  Partners and Contacts

Further information