Laza Food & Beverages Inc.

Bringing Eritrean and Ethiopian Food and Teas to Guelph

3569 4D89


samuel dent

samuel dent

Andrew D'Agostini

Andrew D'Agostini

Katelyn Moorley

Katelyn Moorley


University of Guelph

University of Guelph


Ruben Burga

Ruben Burga

Global Goals

3. Good Health and Well-Being 5. Gender Equality 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

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Laza Food & Beverages Inc.:

  • Provides a source for affordable, authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean food and teas in Guelph, Ontario
  • Introduces authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean food and drinks, in particular Hibiscus and Moringa teas, to Canadian consumers unfamiliar with these products, raising cultural awareness
  • Sources product ingredients at a fair price from local farmers, and globally in Africa and Asia
  • Sells products at a more affordable price
  • Outsources products to local food markets


Laza Food & Beverages Inc., run by Melku Gebrekristos, is a restaurant and catering business that sells authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean food and drinks.

The innovation that sets her business apart is the selling of Hibiscus and Moringa teas, as it is a largely an untapped market in Guelph. Many people familiar with these drinks do not know they can access them locally, so she is making them accessible. Furthermore, given that Melku sells these teas at places such as the farmers market, it increases the awareness of these beverages for consumers who have never tried these drinks.

She is also making these drinks more affordable. While Hibiscus and Moringa teas may be available in certain markets, such as health stores, they are often selling at increased prices. Melku is making her teas more affordable and accessible by sourcing her products directly from farmers in Asia and Africa, which reduces costs through the supply chain and ensures the farmer gets a fair price.

Melku's mission is to bring her own delicious, healthy recipes to Guelph and ensure her customers know the cuisine is made with authentic, real ingredients, at an affordable price. With inspiration from her sister, Shashwork, Melku started this business.

Bringing Eritrean and Ethiopian Food and Teas to Guelph


Melku's passion for authentic food and the influence of her older sister, inspired and motivated her to create a business of her own.

Melku had seven older siblings. As shown on the Laza Catering website, after the passing of her parents, her eldest sister Shashwork became her biggest role model. Shashwork took care of the family. She was always very worldly and owned a restaurant in Las Vegas for many years. As a result, she was able to pass on much of her business knowledge and experience to Melku.

Overall impact

Laza Food & Beverages Inc. benefits the community by increasing food sovereignty in Guelph, while supporting farmers in Asia and Africa. The company also benefits Canadians by sharing wonderful Ethiopian and Eritrean food and teas with people who may not be familiar with these products.

Business benefit

Business owner, Melku Gebrekristos, is currently focused on diversifying the company by highlighting one of her best selling items, Hibiscus tea, as well as introducing Moringa tea to the local market. These teas have inspired a new product line that will provide the business with a competitive edge by appealing to a wider audience and launching Laza Food & Beverages Inc. into the beverage and tea market. By adjusting the business model, and repositioning the brand to represent premium tea products, Laza projects higher sales and, in turn, larger profits.

Melku also plans to outsource Laza products to local food markets.

She recently renamed her business from Laza Catering to Laza Food & Beverages Inc., to reflect the business’ new vision. The long term impact, as of this writing, is still to be determined.

Social and environmental benefit

Laza Food & Beverages Inc. contributes to society by supporting other businesses. Melku aims to source as many ingredients as possible from local farmers, such as honey, and globally, from farmers in Asia and Africa.

In addition, part of Melku’s mission is to improve people’s health. Laza’s hibiscus teas may provide health benefits to its consumers. Some studies show hibiscus may reduce high blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as help digestive, immune system, and inflammatory problems. It may also help speed up metabolism and help in healthy, gradual weight loss.

Benefits also include the introduction of Ethiopian and Eritrean drinks and food to Canadian consumers. This is important in expanding Canada’s food culture. It also creates a sense of belonging and acceptance for local Ethiopian and Eritrean communities. Like other main cuisines in the country, including Thai and Chinese, this kind of cuisine will become more accessible and affordable as it becomes more common.


Dent, S., & Ogunnote, O. (2016, May 28). Globally Loved Drinks Now Locally Known : A story of Hibiscus and Moringa. Guelph: ECVOntario. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from

Dent, S., & Ogunnote, O. (2015, Nov1). Personal Interview.

Gebekristos M. (n.d.). Laza catering. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from


This project acknowledges the support of the SSHRC funded grant in the University of Guelph's SEDRD department on Refugee-Path-Immigrants and Food Sovereignty. The interview was done through that project.


Melku Gebrekristos, Owner

Business information

Laza Food & Beverages Inc.

Laza Food & Beverages Inc.

Guelph, ON, CA
Business Website:
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Laza Catering specializes in Eritrean/Ethiopian cuisine, offering a variety of stews, ingera, samosas, soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and drinks.