Story: Adedayo Christiana Photos: Ken Ehimen
Bethenny Frankel once said “your diet is a bank account, and good food choices are good investment. Healthy life depends on good food; whatever you take in is what you live on.
Culture and tradition can never go into extinction, likewise is Africa indigenous foods that makes our culture spectacularly rich if brave hearts like Henry Alade, a traditional food practitioner and native of Oyo state continues to be good in their craft.
Oyo as a state is noted for its superb meals like Amala, gbejiri and ewedu. But it is baffling that local indigenous meals like this, which are a delight to both the eyes and stomach, are hard to come by. No wonder Henry chose the best delicacy to present to the public, as well as the most prominent outlet to reach out to those that want it.
In today’s Lagos, one of the best places to enjoy traditional meal and express a satisfied feeling is OyO the Amala Place. Approaching the entrance to the simply designed home of fresh local foods, one is already in the mood for the enjoyment therein as the aroma of satisfying good taste speaks to the overjoyed tummy.
OyO the Amala place boasts of an extra ordinary symbol of true Africanism depicted by the superlative Yoruba meals available. Not only that, OyO Amala boasts of the best in human resource as front desk staff are National Diploma holders in Catering and Hotel Management holders, and the kitchen staff are professional chefs.
Once inside, one encounters an array of neatly dressed attendants and rolls of neatly arranged assorted delicacies in transparent showcases that prove to be undeniable appetizers. There is also a transparent freezer standing stoically and exhibiting the Yoruba indigenous drink, Emu (Palm wine).
The general makeup of the entire environment reminds one of home and culture. The furniture therein are made of the best, and diners can sit comfortably to enjoy their meals either alone or in group.
At the helm of affairs is a young entrepreneur, a man of many parts, Henry Alade, who also is the boss of Impact Direct, an experimental Marketing firm. Although, he is fondly called Old Skool by friends he is sensitive enough to see the yawning gap between people and the local delicacies, and wasted no time in exploring the venture. His foresight gave birth to OyO the Amala place, and it is specialised in Amala, Pap, Moi-Moi, Gbejiri, Ewedu, Emu, Wara Soup, Efo Riro, Efo Elegusi and more. Surprisingly, it is superbly affordable!
When TheBoss team encountered the eatery, the man who handles the day to day activities of proverbially moulding the delicacies, Richard Bamidele Ajiboye, gave indepth insight into the activities of the food enclave.
He told our team that the staff makeup has a food background including him, saying that profession of food is a noble one.
“When the opportunity came, I joined this place and I have not regret it. This is a noble profession,” he said.
While it is common knowledge that challenges abound in every business, OyO Amala has remained focused, correcting their mistakes, which in turn brought out the best of the outfit
However, even as competitors abound, and more still coming, the outfit has been privileged to create and build a brand that people have come to trust, and that is ‘our signature tune’.
The major thing that has kept the outfit going is originality and specialization. The vision of the place has been to make people think of home because one can think and behave rational when he is at home.
“Basically, when you have Amala with Gbejiri and Ewedu, you think nothing but home.”
Bamidele, who conducted TheBoss team around said the selling point against competitors is that Amala Gbejiri and Ewedu, can be eaten anytime, ‘and it is something else when eaten with goat meat or fish.
“What really makes us more special than every other ‘buka’ in our Amala, Gbejiri and Ewedu is the Wara stew,” he said.
Sourcing food materials for OyO Amala takes the company out of Lagos because of the desire to satisfy teaming customers. The belief in giving out fresh food and be original and natural makes the company travel the length and breadth of the country.
“Our Elubo comes from Oyo; our palm wine comes from Oyo that is Oyo town (Oyo State). Our customer relation makes us outstanding. We have made everything so simple; it is a streamlined operation. When you enter, the first point is the Amala point and when you take your Amala you are supposed to know if it is with gbejiri and Ewedu or Ewedu alone. And there to another point where you will be served assorted meat, depending on your choice. So it is very simple for people to know exactly what they like.”
Much as customers have different attitudes, OyO Amala has well trained collection of staff, who has been schooled to handle everyone’s level of temper, and so every customer is satisfied.
“Moreover, we take feedback each morning. These feedbacks make us improve on our operations, especially when we have customer complaints, this goes a long way to help us to re-buckle and to come out fine the next day,” he added.
This is even made more possible with the accumulated experience of the company that has spanned years.
Amala Place uses locust beans known as iru in yoruba and ogiri in Igbo as against the regular seasoning to portray the home factor of the business. The great flavour from iru makes it distinct from the regular seasoning and that forms part of the special recipe used in cooking OyO Amala meals.
Again, the management of the eatery says they never relax until each customer is satisfied. But generally, the staff relax while taking feedbacks with bottles of palm wine.
As the saying goes, no one changes a winning formula, and it does not intend to change this formula because it is setting its sights on opening other branches.
And for those who wish to order on line, there is an Instagram page – Oyo the Amala page. There is also a Facebook page and radio jingles is in the making. More so, Sundays will basically be “Family Sunday”.
OyO Amala place also offer outdoor services, and among clients are Commissioner for Environment, Pasum’s PA. There are also celebrities like actors such as Wole Arole, Soji (a Yoruba actor), Gbenga Adeyinka, Kunle Afolayan who frequent the centre.
“Be focused. Define what your brand is and what it will look like, and from there make sure that your procurement is perfect because when you buy right, you sell right.