Sometimes in 2003, an inventive Russian woman and her daughter heeded the call of commerce. Elvira and Bisi renounced their previous means of livelihood which they said became too monotonous and wasn’t as rewarding. Soon afterwards, they chose to inaugurate a restaurant named E-Bar to cater for the evolving entertainment and leisure needs of a sprawling neighbourhood around the Lekki Peninsula Scheme, Phase 1.
Seven years later in 2010, E-Bar has transformed, becoming an indispensable delight for social interface in the neighbourhood. ELVIRA and BISI owners of E-Bar told Travel Mate in this interview that the initiative was at first vague but for consistent kinship with customers and fun seekers that patronise the bar E-Bar has become a purposeful enterprise that is loved by all. Excerpts
Q: Can we meet you?
A: I am Bisi and my mum, Elvira. We both own and manage this bar alongside my brothers and sisters. The business though is my mum’s and I, we all as a family together with the staffs join hands to get the bar running. As a matter of fact, E-bar started about seven years ago somewhere close in the estate here in Lekki until we relocated to this property on Admiralty Way, Lekki Peninsula Scheme Phase 1. At our previous location, E-Bar was managed alongside a guest house but when we relocated to this place, we decided to strictly operate as a bar and we gradually considered letting out other available spaces in the complex to creative minds that would do other crucial needs such as clothing, cosmetics and accessory, bakery and of course, a travel agency and a coffee bar that are capable of pulling crowd to the plaza – a catalyst that can boost our sales I am sure you know.
Q: What informed your choice of leisure business?
A: We have all at different times being working class people. At a point, we decided to quit and start something small on our own as it became monotonous waking up every morning to hit the road to work. In making this decision, we didn’t envision it could get more challenging as an entrepreneur though. However, I will tell you how it all began. One morning, my mum and I got talking and knowing well that she is experienced in the hospitality business and I, in the restaurateur, we decided to combine our talents to offer exceptional service which by God’s grace has become our customers’ delight. While my mum manages the guest house, I handled the bar – that was at the previous location. And amazingly for seven years this business has being and we thank God and our customers for staying with us. At the moment, we no longer do hospitality but concentrate on bar. A cafe, coffee shop and children’s corner will be added to our range of services soon. We are introducing all these to avail residents of this estate the trouble of travelling all the way to Victoria Island to shop for few things they can as well get inside the estate. So, we think about the people’s welfare and not money all the time.
Q: Why is the bar named ‘E-Bar’?
A: The ‘E’ is a combination of my mum’s name, Elvira and my daughter’s, Elissa. I was pregnant at the time the bar started and this informed the coincidence which resulted in us naming the bar ‘E-Bar’. My mum has been a wonderful and very strong woman who in spite of her colour and race gets along very well in Nigeria. She took good care of us and I am happy to have learnt much from her too. Today E-Bar Plaza is well known and we give thanks to God and our customers for their patronage.
Q: How has the business faired?
A: Very well. Though we’ve had our fair share of the usual ups and downs’ sides but the experience is worthwhile. So far, E-Bar has been a success and it is ongoing. We keep an eye on the business, ensuring our customers get the very best and that is why someone is always around to attend to any customer that comes in.
Q: How would you categorise your clientele?
A: E-Bar has various categories of customers ranging from the locals to expertrates many of whom reside in Nigeria. Among them are South Africans, Russians, Germans, Lebanese, English and French etc. We owe this to God, our dedicated staffers and the kinds of meals and menus we serve. They include local and continental cuisines. Remember the idea behind this bar is to operate as a local bar where residents and fun seekers in and around Lekki can recreate, have fun and hangout Monday through Sunday. E-bar is not a membership club but open to all people that cherishes class, style and innovation. You can come in shorts, T-shirts to have fun. We sell virtually all your needs from drinks to continental dishes and some local Nigeria cuisines and menus such as beef suya, asun, chicken suya and steaks etc.
Q: What kinds of menus are served at E-Bar?
A: We started with a few menus but we increased our menu list based on customers’ requirements. Now we serve Nigerian, Lebanese, Russian delicacies etc.
Q: What other incentives does E-Bar offers?
A: At E-Bar, we offer fun seekers and our customers’ unbeatable access to high speed wireless internet service. This implies that our customers can at their own comfort connect with their respective relatives, friends, well wishers and business companions in any part of the world. Coupled with this is our cosy environment that unites business people and offers them a rare opportunity to discuss genuine business while they relax and have fun, browse the internet, scan, photocopy and print documents.
Q: When does the bar closes and what security is in place?
A: Although the bar does not operate as a club, we could as well say we do not have closing hour. We wait until the last customer leaves. However, the bar is much secured and so are our customers too. Men of the anticrime police division are deployed here 24/7 and they are on guard to forestall any unforeseen circumstances.
Q: Where is your native country and how long have you been in Nigeria?
A: My mum is Russian and she is married to a Nigerian. I am by this circumstance, a Nigerian. My mum has been in this country for more than 30 years.
Q: Aren’t you keen about mounting competition?
A: It is only normal that more people explore newer and existing areas of business but what is important is how well you get the enterprise running. We like and cherish healthy competition. We are a listening company and we take very seriously whatever suggestions offered by our customers. The changes and some of the layout you see in E-Bar Plaza are partly ours and our customers. We are a listening company and we take very seriously whatever suggestions offered by our customers. The
changes and some of the layout you see in E-Bar Plaza are partly ours and our customers. We serve continental and local dishes here and this is our strength. Ask for Sharwama, asun, suya and lot more and we will be glad to delight you.
Notwithstanding, we are not in competition with anybody. We are simply E-Bar and that is what we are to our customers and those that have had a feel of what we offer.
Q: Have you plans for expansion?
A: No. Our ultimate goal is to make the size of the bar as manageable as possible so we can please every customer that patronises us.
Q: What are leisure and entertainment business to you?
A: It is exciting and stressful. It takes a lot to get the business running. You have to understand the people. It isn’t like any other business. You must keep an eye on what you sell, how you sell it especially little items like a glass of wine and so on. So, the business requires maximum attention. You can now imagine if you are not there. But essentially, we are also trying to be as dynamic as possible, such that we can continue to introduce attractive activities that can engage our customers. At the moment, we are introducing games such as play station, snooker and the likes. Besides, our customers can now catch the fun of live international league matches and various other sports, while on Fridays; fun seekers are treated to exciting live band.
Q: When is your happiest moment?
A: When I am working. We are workaholics. Even though I sometimes get nervous and stressed-up, hard work keeps me going, and I derive joy from working very hard. However, I am also happy when I look up and see the kind of crowd I anticipated, especially on Fridays. With such multitude, I get on my feet, shuttling between the kitchen and the bar to take customers’ orders, clear their tables and importantly, making them happy too. At that point, I am delighted.