FRANCIS & OWOLABI
Founders CIRCA LAGOS
2 Kola Adeyina Close, off Jerry Iriabe
Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria
@circa_lagos / 0809 313 3330
Meet Francis and Awolabi, the gentlemen that own Circa Lagos, a restaurant and a boutique hotel located in Lekki.
Can you pleases introduce yourself and tell us about your background –
I studied philosophy and I have been running my Furniture manufacturing business for over 20yrs. I have always loved creating aesthetically beautiful spaces with my furnitures, I am a family man. I have always loved the great ambience and architectures of restaurant and hotel and I knew one day it was going to happen.
I studied Political Science in University of Lagos. I have worked in the real estate industry. Francis and I have an excellent synergy, we compliment each other in our roles here at CIRCA, we love what we do and we are extremely hands on. We love each of our customers to have a wow experience when they step into our doors.
You will catch me changing the wrong type of glass served to customers and you will see Francis adjusting the table mats or chairs. We are both very passionate about offering the best possible experience and service to our customers
The boutique hotel concept started about 3 yrs ago and the restaurant idea evolved from there about a 1yr after. I have always known I would get into the restaurant business and as Francis and I were developing this hotel, we had another synergy moment. Our first concept was a rooftop restaurant on the hotel but the space didn’t work out. Then when we found this perfect space it was a no brainer to use the space for the pool as the restaurant.
The building was a 5 bedroom duplex home, we renovated the building and used the pool area for the restaurant. The restaurant is a combination of great quality food, and serene and chic lounge “We just want to create good vibes.”
What inspired this Brand?
I have always been a foodie, I patronized loads of restaurant from Roberts café to Casa Lydia, I was always a regular there I love the experience, the culture, the presentation; It was just a matter of time we opened one. With Francis’s background we were able to develop a contemporary space that not only complimented our personalities but also the Hotel
Can you describe your typical work day?
We are both hands on. Besides, we have a good system we are also improving on. Before we opened we hired a consultant for every aspect of this business. We have a process already in place.
it is always the usual routine for any other restaurant owner – early startup around 7:00 am till 11:00 pm every weekday and weekends might stretch till twelve.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive?
There is a science to this and we are very meticulous about it, the kind of customers we attract, the kind of music playing, the quality of the sound and volume as well, we even change the music depending on the time of day it is. Like I said there is a science to this and we know exactly how we want to serve our customers and how we want them to feel
We have fine-tuned Circa to give the best customer experience , ambience and food, Our target audience is the working class women, so everything we do we put them in mind, for example we have no TV here, we don’t play loud music .
I went through over 400 CVs and I personally interviewed every staff we hired, we try to build a culture with the team we have here, and we also lead by examples.
How has your Brand evolve over the years?
We are still evolving, and we hope to build more brands either under the CIRCA brand or as a stand alone brand but we love this space and are excited about the future prospects. We are very much focused on giving customers the best experience.
Can you give us the most challenging experiences you have had?
Owolabi & Francis:
This project was capital intensive asides that the challenge for us is making sure each and every customer gets exactly the same experience, we had to stretch ourselves financially to make this happen.
With staffing; I wouldn’t say we got lucky, but after interviewing over 40 applicants personally, we were able to pick a great team. We have low staff turnover and our management style is leading by example.
What advice would you give your young self?
Just go for it, study; make sure you are passionate about service and food. Put your personal touch in the business, that is the best thing ever.
I manufacture furniture, yet we went ahead to hire interior architect who designed the structures and I manufactured it.
Research a lot, talk to people and assimilate as much ideas as you can.
Synergy is the driving force. You can’t stand alone and you can’t do it alone. Get a consultant when you can’t handle it. We have consultants for almost everything. Nobody is a master.
Where do you see the brand in 5 yrs- 10 yrs?
I would say more locations. I wish to take this internationally.
Yes! In fact we want to make it a franchise brand.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
People will always get inspired by other people’s recipes as I did the same , we have Yassa on the menu and this was a result of non Nigerian family friends visiting us over the holidays and cooking it. At the end of the day you have to put your own spin on recipes. I can always create something different. So, all of my staff here know the recipe.
What advice would you give your young self?
Don’t get disgruntled, stay focused. Don’t give up. All it looks like is stumbling blocks and it can become stepping stones.
Tell us about your Work-life balance?
Well, this is pretty much like “work, life and other work – balance”
We are still trying to strike a balance.
We still pushing our personal jobs and we have Circa to run too and we are pretty hands-on. I personally close work by 5:00pm, go to gym for short while then, I’m here till will we close
Book and Resource Recommendation:
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (https://books.google.com.ng/books/about/The_Alchemist.html?id=6bBPrgEACAAJ&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y)
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (https://books.google.com.ng/books/about/Sapiens.html?id=1EiJAwAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y)
The firm-Variety (https://variety.com/1993/film/reviews/the-firm-3-1200432377/)
- Thinking food business ? Just go for it, study; make sure your passion lies in food
- Research a lot, talk to people and assimilate as much ideas as you can
- Don’t get disgruntled, stay focused
- Don’t give up; all it looks like is stumbling blocks that can become stepping stones
- Synergy is the driving force; you can’t do it alone
- Get a consultant when you can’t handle it. We have consultants for almost everything.