Aya Lemma who has been living in DC for the past 28 years decided to move to Addis Ababa and open a cafe through the encouragement of his wife. Having spent the past 15 years working at Tryst in Adams Morgan, he came to Ethiopia and opened his cafe by the same name in April of this year. (Aida Muluneh/For The Washington Post)

Nightlife all but disappeared in Ethiopia’s capital under the Derg, the Marxist regime that held sway in the country for much of the 1970s and ’80s, and it is in the city’s new restaurants, cafes and nightclubs that the gradual return of those who fled can really be felt.

The aesthetic of the diaspora increasingly defines dining here. Bars like O Canada and Stockholm announce their owners’ origins. And it is common to hear American accents from the Ethiopians in the fancier bars.

Some establishments are even direct transplants. The popular D.C. coffee shop Tryst now has an offshoot in Addis Ababa, opened by Aya Lemma, who worked for 15 years at the shop on 18th Street NW and now lives in Addis.

Just a fraction the size of its parent, the Addis Tryst tries to re-create the original’s comfortable lounge feeling, serving fresh juices, baked goods and an excellent macchiato to the sound of a reggae beat.

The street outside might feel a long way from Washington, with many buildings in the process of being either put up or knocked down, yet many customers said they knew the original Tryst.

Aya Lemma at work. (Aida Muluneh/For The Washington Post)

“Most of us, we’ve known each other from the States, and we feel comfortable sitting down and talking together,” said Lemma, 42. “We have things in common.”

— Paul Schemm

Tryst in Addis, Ethi­o­pia. (Aida Muluneh/For The Washington Post)