Founder of Smokey Bones
8B Fabac Close, Off Ligali Ayorinde Street (Behind Mobil House),, Victoria Island, Lagos
@smokeybonessf / 0802 609 5962
Meet Mr. Edward, the entrepreneur who found a soft landing in car dealership but later on explored his passion after a talk with his wife and he started his brand Smokey Bones restaurant.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background –
My name is Edward. I studied Biology. I was actually in line to be a Doctor, based on my parents’ desire for me, but right from when I was young, I knew I was going to own a restaurant.
I worked in a BBQ Restaurant in Atlanta for about 6 years and eventually rose through the ranks to become a part owner. I moved back to Nigeria in 2006, and ran car dealership for about 5 years. For me, it was a soft landing to explore the market and discover other business opportunities. While in a conversation with my lovely wife, she encouraged and motivated me to follow my dreams, and that was how Smokey Bones started in 2012. I already had sound knowledge of the business so it wasn’t a case of learning on the job.
I am very hands on , I supervised the entire major renovations we did here – from plumbing to electrical, to furniture. I am also very good at fixing cars.
Starting days for business including funding?
Smokey Bones was funded from my savings and it took me a couple of millions to start this. A huge part of the capital was spent on rent though. To start a business like this, one definitely needs access to capital. Obviously, banks don’t lend easily, raising such a capital would depend on your social network.
Can you describe your typical work day?
Before we had major renovations, we worked 7 days a week but presently, I work 9:00am to 11:00pm from Monday to Friday, and resume at 6:00pm on Saturday. For now, we don’t open on Sundays though I hope to start that soon due to customers’ consistent request.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive in market place?
I always ensure our food is up to standard, our services are adequate, staff and ambience are thoroughly clean and serene. I also make sure am fully involved in what happens in the business. I have a lot to put in place to make our products unique.
we offer light menus for customers who want to experience a good barbecue meal but don’t want eat heavy, . We equally have salads and healthy foods which I call “go green” like quinoa, we also have vegetarian meals on our menu. Our menu appeals to all types of customers that walks into our doors. We offer a blend of American and Nigerian cuisine.
How has your brand evolve over the years?
Initially, the setup was smaller than this, but as we were growing, we started exceeding capacity,so we decided to expand to meet up with patronage. We shut down for about 4-5 months for renovation and we have a much bigger space now. As a result, I have been able to communicate better with our clients, we have a live band, our menu got expanded and our Mac n Cheese is a solid customer favorite.
Where do you see your brand in the next 5 yrs -10yrs?
I look towards expanding and opening branches in other locations outside Lagos, especially in the East where I come from, Abuja and more, hopefully through franchising.
Can you give us the most challenging experiences you have had?
Sometimes, it’s the tenancy agreements that just changes and it’s almost a battle you can’t win. You become stuck between relocating after investing so much into the space or paying the new rate being forced on you. Out of the blue, I was told my rent was being increased to an X-amount, and I had to cope with that or relocate. The experience is quite challenging because relocating could make one lose clients.
Why do you think most food entrepreneurs fail in their businesses?
Food business is tactical and as such, needs a whole lot of dedication and commitment. It requires hard work and a continuous improvement process.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
I make the core sauces and spice mix and my staff handle the rest. They know the right portions to put together to give the desired results.
What advice would you give your young self?
Be patient and dedicated, believe in what you are doing and the sky will be your starting point.
What piece of business advice would you give someone starting up?
Food business needs attention and dedication, as such, you must be innovative and keep improving on recipes. Also believe in yourself, be positive and ready to manage the hardship that comes with it. According to a popular saying, “there is always light at the end of a tunnel”.
Book and Resource recommendation:
I am not really a book reader, I am always online when I want to study new things or check out techniques; google has been the most useful resource for me, I also buy food books and guidelines as well.
- Sometimes, it is the tenancy agreements that just changes and it’s almost a battle you can’t win
- Food business needs attention and dedication
- You must be innovative and keep improving on recipes
- Relocating could make one lose clients.
- Believe in yourself; be positive and ready to manage the hardship that comes with it
- “There is always light at the end of a tunnel”.
- Be patient and dedicated, believe in what you are doing and the sky will be your starting point.