Olushola Olakunle Medupin, founder of Enish Restaurant & Bar Limited, had a small beginning back in Nigeria, in Ilorin, Kwara State capital. He recounted his story for thelaurel.com.ng
Give us an insight into your beginning?
I started my early life in Ilorin the city of my birth. After my primary and secondary education, I later went to study Economics at UNAD (University of Ado-Ekiti), but I have always been inclined to business. I was born into a family of restaurateurs, with both grandparents and my mother owning food businesses. And from the age of six, I was regularly visiting the restaurant, after school and on weekends except for Sundays.
By age 7, I started cooking simple meals and pounding yam from the age of 8. At age 11, I started a wholesale orange business from our family orchard. I’d go to the market and persuade the traders to come to our home and buy sacks of oranges I had plucked from the trees. We’d negotiate prices and they’d pay me. At the time, I gave all the money I made to my mother and never got a dime from it. At age 16, I started a supermarket next to my mum’s restaurant whilst simultaneously managing the restaurant. I made so much money and even had clients including NEPA, CBN, UBA, Union Bank etc. In addition to these roles, I also had a dog business on the side. Talk about having multiple streams of income. At such a young age, I had made so much money I bought my first car and the second at the age of 19. After my university education around 2002/2003, I learnt how to repair handsets at Computer Village. Immediately after deployment for my NYSC in Katsina, I opened my phone business where I repaired and sold handsets and recharge cards. I was nicknamed ‘Senior Corper’ at the time as a result of how much money I was making from my business.
How did you end up in the UK?
When I moved to the UK, the first job I got was as a kitchen porter, but I felt I deserved more and decided to move back to Nigeria to start a car wash and pharmacy business. The car wash business took off, but just as I was about to begin the pharmacy business, I got an admission into a Masters programme at the University of East London to study Investment Banking and Securities in 2008.
Whilst at the university, I found myself back in the kitchen porter employment. Four years later in 2012, as I was contemplating relocating back to Nigeria, I decided to start a restaurant in London, since I had a pretty good experience in the food industry and business in general. I opened my first restaurant in 2013 at Lewisham, the second one on Finchley Road in 2016, then Croydon and Ilford in 2019. And in 2020, I opened one in Dubai and another in Brixton. Later I opened another at Walworth Road and the second one in Dubai.
What is your unique selling point?
My personality, the business is who you are; the way I treat customers, the staff are watching me and they do the same thing. I think my personality is a big factor. Customer service, good food and other things follow.
Who are some of the big celebs that have patronised Enish?
Davido, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Kiss Daniel, Yemi Slade, Adekunle Gold, Simi, Perruzi, Whizkid, DJ Cuppy, and a host of others.
What kind of dish is available in Enish Restaurant?
Goat Meat Assorted Pepper Soup, Fish Pepper Soup, Garnished Stockfish, Snail, Moi Moi, Gizzard and Plain Rice, Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, Ego Tiro, Egusi, Ogbono, Edika-Ikon, Oha, Ode Nsala. We have pounded yam, Eba, Semo, Isi Ewu, Nkwobi, Asun, Beef Suya, Lamb Suya―we have 57 items on the menu.
Any dream of establishing Enish in Africa?
Africa is not ready for me yet. I’m looking at coming to Nigeria. There’s a big potential there. I went to 40 restaurants and clubs when I was in Nigeria and it’s encouraging. I intend to open a big restaurant in Nigeria but on a different concept.
You have two restaurants in Dubai, how did that come about?
I went to Dubai for an exhibition and as I was just going around on a cool afternoon, I saw an African restaurant in Dubai. I entered the restaurant and I like the atmosphere and it was quite big. I said, if this man can do it, I should be able to do something better. I spoke to one or two people and two months later, I opened one in Dubai. Unfortunately or unluckily Covid-19 came. The restaurant is posh, but you will feel that Nigerian vibes. We only play Afrobeat, no foreign music.