When you, the typical everyday person, wants to flex and have both fun and food in Nigeria, you have any one of three choices. One, buy street food or snacks you can afford – and take heed to the environmental hygiene for your own good. You will agree with me that not everyone is careful about enforcing cleanliness. That includes where people buy and sell street foods.
Two, just go to the marketplace, get some foodstuff, and prepare the eatables of your choice at home. Along the line, well – someone’s sixth sense suddenly wakes up. And it goes like this: if I can make my own tasty food or snack at home, why not turn it into profit? We have more than enough tutorials on the internet to learn about making tasty recipes. Hey, lots of food entrepreneurs started out this way! Which naturally leads us to the third option: eateries!!
Eateries in Nigeria: What’s an Eatery By the Way?
You know what? The dictionary definition of ‘eatery’ is any place where you can buy and eat prepared food. Which means any kind of restaurant, cafeteria/coffee shop, snack bar, or bakery shop qualifies to be called an eatery. So long as they serve you prepared or cooked food.
Also Read- 10 Most Popular Foods in Nigeria
Remember our proudly Nigerian bukaterias or ‘mama put’, and pepper soup joints? Our Amala joints? Ẹwà agoyin ‘hot spots’? Our plantain, suya, shawarma, fish, meat and poultry roast and grill joints? Even that graduate selling akara and moin-moin! They are technically eateries. Nigerians have become so creative, and have chosen to upgrade their ‘local’ food joints in their dozens now. Some of them are now restaurant chains with clean, welcoming environments that beckon you to come back for more.
History Lane: The First Ever ‘Corporate’ Eatery in Nigeria
Drawing inspiration from our earlier description of an eatery, we have had local eateries in Nigeria for a long time. Long before the British, Chinese, Indian or Lebanese expatriates brought their own version of eateries into Nigeria. There were local cooks who became famous for their food. There was the story of ‘Elewa Sapon’ of Abeokuta, Madam Janet Odesola – the celebrity cook who specialized in serving tasty beans and stew around 1951 thenceforth. Local bukaterias and grill joints have existed in Nigeria for decades (as far as we and our parents can remember).
Our West African neighbours (especially the Ghanaians, Beninoise and Togolese) who settled in Nigeria were so good at local food entrepreneurship. And we learnt a lot from them I believe. The 20th Century had them baptizing Nigerians with ‘ẹwà agoyin’, Jollof rice, puff-puff, ‘ kokoro’, ‘wanke’ and plenty of other foods that now have a Nigerian stamp on them with commercial success.
But which eatery started the modernised quick-service eatery (or fast-food restaurant) business in Nigeria? That happens to be Mr. Biggs – from way back in 1986. Following the publicity and fairly rapid spread of Mr. Biggs across Lagos and Nigeria, more upper middle-income people gravitated towards ‘foreign’ fast food. Being able to buy food from an eatery serving intercontinental food or pastries from time to time automatically puts you in a respected class before neighbours and family. That upper-class mentality was, and still is, a selling strategy for Mr. Biggs and its emerging competitors. However, some of these eateries have managed to serve low-cost foods, and some diversified into preparing local dishes, soups and stews to get more patronage.
We present to you the 10 most popular eateries in Nigeria in no particular order, and their journey so far.
Chicken Republic was established in Nigeria by Food Concepts Limited in 2004. As of today, the fast food restaurant chain has over 150 outlets spread across Nigeria and Ghana, with plans to add more. Chicken Republic has sworn to uphold the local production industry, where all its ingredients are sourced from. The restaurant aims to continue providing affordable meals (both local and foreign). Which means you can get a decent meal at any Chicken Republic restaurant in Nigeria for instance, from N500 upwards. Not only that, their meals are characteristically built around the ‘Soulfully Spiced Chicken and tasty sides, all flavoured to perfection with our unique blend of authentic West African herbs and spices’ as declared on the company’s website.
Mega Chicken restaurant was established in 2008 in Nigeria by a group of persons who address themselves as ‘country builders’. The 5-star restaurant has three prominent branches in Lagos as we speak.
The classy, clean, expansive environment is its first selling point: hugely appealing to any visitor. Also, the broad assortment of local and Chinese meals, rich pastries and snacks is another winner. Meals cost from N1000 upwards (which I believe is reasonable). Thirdly, the soothing environment incorporates an ultra-modern games arcade and play centre for adults and children.
Mega Chicken is without a doubt focused on giving the highest quality service in both food and hospitality to its customers. It is also actively serving customers online.
Tantalizers Plc is a renowned restaurant chain set up in Lagos in the year 1997. It operates a franchise, and proudly owns over 50 outlets across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Right from the N200 cup of tea up to any amount your pocket can dish out, Tantalizers restaurants promise to fully satisfy your palate.
The eatery offers a broad range of local foods and soups, snacks, bread, cake, and ice cream. And all at affordable prices. It operates online as well as offline.
Sweet Sensation started its quick service eatery business in 1994. The fast-food restaurant was the first to introduce both local and intercontinental meals into their menu. And soon enough it attracted a huge clientele.
Presently, the eatery operates at least 23 outlets spanning Lagos and Ogun states. It operates both online and offline.
Sweet Sensation can boast of notable sub-brands that have further boosted their market, which include:
- Funsation (Games and eSports arcade)
- Yardstick (Soccer viewing centre & VIP relaxation lounge)
- Yippee (Vegan & Keto salads, juices & meals for the health-conscious)
- OMG Cakes (Delicious cakes)
- Sweet Heart Bread (Signature bread)
- Boga Masta (Burgers, shawarma, pizzas & hotdogs zone)
Domino’s Pizza, Coldstone & Pinkberry
Established in 1960 in the Michigan, USA area, Domino’s Pizza is a worldwide brand operating in over 80 countries as we speak. The famous eatery established itself in Nigeria in the year 2012 through the local franchise operator, Eat N’ Go Limited.
The pizza restaurant chain embraced online delivery right from its parent company in 2007, and that took effect in Nigeria by 2018. One unique feature of the Domino’s Pizza online service are the Online Tracking, and Pizza Builder options. You can choose your own ingredients and ‘build’ your pizza right there on the screen. And you can track your order from the beginning until it is delivered. The eatery offers other side meals like breadsticks, chicken, yam fries and more to add more fun to your pizza.
The collaboration between Domino’s Pizza, Coldstone Creamery and Pinkberry yoghurt in all their locations began way back in 2012 under the control of their Nigerian parent company, Eat N’ Go Limited. That collaboration has worked out well to customers’ delight, who have access to all the tasty products at once.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Devyani International secured a franchise from Yum International, the owners of worldwide eatery brand Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The first Nigerian KFC outlet thereafter opened up in Onikan, Lagos in 2009. KFC worldwide has well over 145 locations as we speak.
KFC is famous for its signature bucket spiced chicken, wings and sides, as well as tasty hamburgers and fries. Ice cream and some other tasty snacks have been thrown into the mix, washed down with Pepsi cola! The tasty array of side snacks accompanying the ‘bucket of chicken’ altogether makes KFC a top choice for fun lovers in the present day. You can also get quality service on the company website.
Mr. Biggs/Debonairs Pizza
Mr. Biggs is indeed the father of all franchise eateries in Nigeria. It was the very company that opened up the fast food business in Nigeria, right from 1986. Since then, the quick service restaurant business has continued to boom nationwide, though not without challenges.
The precursor of the Mr. Biggs chain were the coffee shops of UAC-owned Kingsway stores of the 1960s. Renamed Kingsway Rendezvous in 1973, it got its final name as Mr Biggs 13 years later. For a while, Mr. Biggs dominated the market, and established several outlets in the absence of competitors. But some of the franchisees were offering substandard food and service, with little variety. The unwelcome trend prompted more competitors to arise and challenge its status quo. Many of its outlets were subsequently shut down and the business took a downturn.
However, a rebranding and reorganization these past one or two years saw a huge turnaround happening in the Mr. Biggs chain. The functioning outlets are being rebuilt and look more appealing. Newer outlets are springing up. The menu is now much broader and richer, incorporating both local and foreign delicacies as well as its trademark snacks. You are even offered ice cream here, chicken and turkey there, rich cakes and muffins to crown it all.
There is also the latest collaboration between Mr. Biggs and Debonairs Pizza in some of the key outlets. Debonairs specialty pizza is so rich and filling that with (or without) the accompaniments on offer, it is solidly satisfying. The Mr. Biggs website is well developed to cater for its customers.
Set up around 2006, The Place is a Nigerian-owned chain of hospitality businesses operating under the ownership of Smackers Limited. The business has restaurants, night clubs, farms, as well as hotel subdivisions. The restaurant chain alone has at least 24 locations across Lagos and Abuja. With a good assortment of local and continental foods, as well as tasty snacks and a relaxing environment – The Place restaurant has earned its place in the Nigerian eatery industry.
Mama Cass restaurant is a popular Nigerian fast-food eatery which started operations in Ikeja in the year 1983. The expansion of the company over the years saw Mama Cass currently having two important subdivisions. These are Jayden Food and confectionery; and Premier Chef (to handle catering services at corporate and social events). The eatery prides itself as a quick-service restaurant, offering a wide array of local foods and popular pastries at pocket-friendly prices. It has a very active online presence to cater for customers.
Tasty Fried Chicken
What started out as Tastee Pot catering company in Lagos, 1996 to serve food at special events blossomed into a full eatery one year later. Tasty Fried Chicken (TFC) opened its first quick-service eatery in Surulere. Its signature meal is chicken – all other foods emerged as famous side-kicks. In reality, the owner of TFC based her restaurant model on that of Kentucky Fried Chicken, where she worked before then. However, its initial outdoor catering service continued to operate.
A collaboration was set up in 2006 between Oando filling station and KFC to the effect that they appear together in every location nationwide. The renown eatery at the moment runs 14 locations across Lagos.
KFC offers delicious chicken on its own, or in combination with burgers and other popular snacks. Tasty rice in many varieties, other traditional meals, as well as bread, are also available. So customers can enjoy a triple deal. You easily refuel your car, enjoy free parking, and share a decent meal with family members at a pocket-friendly price. The eatery services its customers online as well.
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