ORODE, Founder Otres Restaurant Lagos
Block A9 Plot 7 Wole Olateju Street Off Admiralty Road,
Lekki Phase 1, 23401 Lagos, Nigeria
@otresrestaurant / 09095323063
We had the pleasure of sitting with restaurant owner Orode, sharing her experience and story behind her brand’s success. Touching on her background, how she got in to the business, challenges faced and much more…
Can you pleases introduce yourself and tell us about your background ?
My name is Orode. I have been the team leader of Otres Restaurant since 2011. Otres was found by my mother in 2007 back in Delta State while Lagos branch started in 2014. I have a degree in Psychology at the University of Windsor, Canada; I have an MBA; Certificate in public health; Certificate as Project Manager.
I have loved cooking since I was 11 years old. Before I came back to Nigeria, I started a foundation – Pink Pearl Foundation for Nigeria’s Breast and Cervical cancer awareness, Home to Rubies Vocational School, Kingdom Kids Program and the Giveaway Project. I found Exclusive Brands Africa in 2010 and currently, I am the organizer TEDxOgunu Delta State.
Starting days for business
The location in Lagos was pretty much an expansion of the Delta location. Its growth was funded by the Delta location. At the time we came to Lagos, there were barely restaurants that served Delta cuisine. I remember I’d have to go to the mainland or to my aunt’s house to eat proper Delta food. We felt there was a huge market for it here. We were one of the first to bring authentic delta cuisine to Lagos.
My goal with Otres is to expand my mom’s vision. For this, I brought in different skills and management; we were serving local Delta dish in a Fine Dining setting. Presently, I focus on idea generation, brand direction and goal setting.
Can you describe your typical work day?
When I opened here, I was literally in the kitchen full time, cooking. To me, there is only one way to cook Delta food, so I ensured it was cooked the right way.As business grew, I engaged consultants and my role evolved. I hired diligent staff that were able to take the work load off me. Now I get weekly reports detailing the operations.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive in market place?
We created a refined serene ambiance and brought Delta local taste into fine dining. Because we want out guests to have a great experiences, we offer catering services, we have worship cafe in partnership with Tribe, and also host parties. The brand has expanded to offer more services to our customers. We are currently revamping our delivery services and other structures; staff undergo mandatory training on Mondays, on spiritual and social development, and appraisals are held monthly.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years- 10yrs?
We plan to open more locations across Lagos as over the counter locations. Ideally I’d want it to be in malls.
Can you give us the most challenging experiences you have had?
I have had a few bad experiences: putting halogen light in the street for security, employing external security to guard customer’s cars to avoid break in on the road, constantly fixing the generator, constantly treating the water, having to deal with the agencies, having to bring in consultants and not getting value for payment, power generation costs; a whole cow spoiled in storage as a result of power outage. Price hikes and staff getting too creative with the set recipes are also part of the challenges. It is pretty tasking but I was fortunate to hire a consultant who came on board for 3 months and helped implement process and built the structures we are executing till date.
What is the worst entrepreneurial moment you ever had ?
We discovered that our staff had manipulated the POS to receive payments. This set us back in millions and we went from a staff strength of 16 to 2 overnight. All of this happened while I was away on studies. Apparently the Head waiter became a landowner. It was a complex scam. We got the police involved and the bank as well.
Another experience is that staff who are not aligned with the brand’s vision end up corrupting or sabotaging the system.
Why do you think most food entrepreneurs fail in their businesses?
I think it’s about persistence and patience. People think that food business is a bed of roses where you make a lot of money. Nigeria is a very difficult environment to run a business so you have to deal with that as well. One may not make profit till the 4th year in business.
What piece of business advice would you give someone starting up?
Find a model that works for you and your brand. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ affair. That its works for X doesn’t mean it will work for you. Also, you must be open to change and as much as possible consistently be innovative, flexible, and adaptable and improve on the past.
Nigerians get tired early; they always want something different. So understanding who you are catering to helps.
What advice would you give your young self?
O my God! I felt like… I should have started early and tested it out on a small scale before going on a larger scale. Start small and grow as market demands.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
The recipes are mostly my mom’s. I have introduced a few unique items to our menu and adjusted a few recipes. Mainly, the chefs know the recipe. I am not particularly concerned about staff leaving with recipes; it’s beyond what one can control. Besides, there are a lot of things still unique to our service not just the recipes.
Who has been most impactful in your life
Uhm..! Two people have served as my resource: my mum, who is my mentor, and a friend who has become a mentor as well.
- I think business is about persistence and patience.
- People think that food business is a bed of roses where you make a lot of money.
- Nigeria is a very difficult environment to run a business so you have to deal with that as well.
- One may not make profit till the 4th year in business.
- Find a model that works for you and your brand; It is not a ‘one size fits all’ affair
- You must be open to change and as much as possible consistently be innovative, flexible, and adaptable and and improve on the past.
- Nigerians get tired early; they always want something different. So understanding who you are catering to helps.
Pink Pearl Foundation
Read more at: https://www.pinkpearlfoundation.org/