What Do I Need To Start a Restaurant Business in Nigeria?

Everyone must eat irrespective of your religious or cultural believe. In a country like Nigeria with a growing population, this means that not everyone will be able to eat at home. Some might not be able to have the time to prepare a meal in the morning before stepping out, that’s the case of bachelors and students, while some might be too tired from work stress in the evening to be able to cook.

This is where “owning a restaurant business” comes in handy. When we (Nigerians) hear the word RESTAURANT, two scenario comes to mind; scenario one, which is a fancy eatery where food is prepared example Mr. Biggs, Tantalizer etc. or scenario two, which is a structure where anybody can come and eat usually called “Mama Put”.

In this article, I will talk about scenario two popularly known as “mama put” in the Nigerian Pidgin English. Having a restaurant is a very profitable and lucrative business to venture into, but there are so many misconceptions people have about the business which I will discuss below.

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Misconception in Starting a Restaurant Business

One of the misconceptions is that “having or running a restaurant business is a very dirty business and not for university graduate”. This is one wrong mind-set that has kept many people from venturing into this business and making money.

But the ugly truth is that those that are into this business are richer than the “so called university graduate” and in almost all case ends up feeding the graduate since they are one of the major category of people that patronizing these business owners the most.

Now, let’s look at what is needed to start this business.


This is the first thing you will need if you want to succeed in this business, there must be passion to establish this business and keep it afloat. If you are in this business or want to venture into it, because of the money then forget it because there are some bad days and business risk associated with all business and having the passion will make you soar above your competitor. So if you have the passion continuing read if not, then I suggest you read other article in this website to find the one that best suit you.

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Market Survey

Next is to do a market research or survey. Doing a market research or survey is very important, as this help you to know whether or not your business will prosper.

The first thing to consider when doing a market survey is:

Getting a Location

The location matters in any business whether small scale or large scale. Location will determine your customers and the ease of doing a business. Choosing the right location for your restaurant business can be at anywhere ranging from a piece of land next to a school, office down to a bus stop. Let me give you an example, my friend’s mum have a restaurant business right next to her house and her is still making her money.

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But one of the things to consider when choosing a location is the rent you pay to the land lord, union, steward or whoever is in charge of the territory or piece of land. Depending on the place, a rent may range from ₦1,000 to ₦5,000 per month.

Customer Base (What Do They like Eating)

Remember that your location determine your customer and what they will eat. Like for example if your business is located next or in a school then know your customers will mostly be students.

If next to the road side then it can be workers or manual labourer, if next to a car park then you will attract more of drivers and passengers.

The food you will offer will be divided into two categories, which is:

  • Food that can be eaten with a spoon or fork such as Jellof rice, Porridge Beans etc.
  • Food that will be eaten with the hands such as the usual Nigerian cuisine; Egusi Soup, Okra soup etc.

If you notice that your customers are more of students then I believe you should pay more attention to food eaten with spoons and you might add any soup preferably Egusi soup

If your customers are more of manual labourers and drivers then pay more attention to soups of different kinds along with Beans, yam – in short, pay more attention to food that fill the stomach more cos these people burn calories a lot.

Time of the day to cook

When to cook? Morning, afternoon or evening. Each hour of the day has its own advantage and disadvantage.

Most people prefer to open in the morning, because they feel people eat before going out, while this is true the competition is also high.

Choosing to operate in the afternoon can be a great choice, as people are usually hungry before 1 pm and the competition is lower.

Remember this is also depends on the location you operate in. if you operate in a tertiary institution, where the student board over then you can chose to operate all time round if you have the energy to or choose a lesser competitive hour of the day such as afternoon.

If your location is a bus top or next to a car park, you can operate during the early morning period as people travelling or using the bus might likely eat.


The structure or building where you want your business to be suitable matters a lot, many people pay little or no attention to this but the truth is that the structure where your business is situated is your number 1 Unique Selling Point.

When someone is hungry and comes to eat, the appearance of your restaurant both in and out matters whether, he might decide to sit and eat or simply walk away. Do not make the mistake of following people who just use woods or trampolines as a building structure for their business.

Make your business unique as possible, make it spacy, enough chairs, you can use plastic zinc to make natural light to come in, DO NOT FORGET hygiene matters a lot.

How To Cook

Your cooking style will also help to promote your business, if you cook just like any other person then, your business will be like any other person business but if you take your time to try something new and be innovative and creative people will come and eat just to see the latest cuisine you have prepared.

For example instead of the usual stew we all know of you can add some delicacy such as the famous Banga Stew or vegetable stew. You can even add pepper soup to customers on special days.

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How To Get Food Item Cheap

Nigerians love cheap things and that means they will pressurize you to give them more for a lesser amount and once you do this you have won their heart.

But you cannot give an extra food for a lesser amount if you buy your food ingredient expensive, so you need to find a market where you can buy your food ingredient at a relatively cheap amount.

For a starter you might not have the capital to source food item from far destination such as Onitsha in Anambra State or Mile 1 in Lagos. So you have to settle with the one you have pending when you grow your capital base.


The above are things that are needed if you want to start a profitable restaurant business but you need to keep your mind on unforeseen expenses such as when commodities in the market increase for example as at writing this article the price of kerosene in my residence is almost twice it initially price.

There are also some information which are not included in this article as I figure out they are a must if you one to start any “food business” such as plates, spoons, pots stove or gas cooker depending on which you can lay your hands on.

Starting this business is not as expensive as people believe as with ₦150,000 – ₦ 200,000 you are set to start.

Avoid starting big, remember that there are customer that are loyal and will continue buying from a particular person but if they find out you offer the same service or a better service for the same price or lower, they will migrate over to you.

Do not be jack of all trade and end up spoiling the ones you have done, if you cannot cope with cooking different type of meal, then stick with a hand full and as you progress further you can hire a hand or two to help out with the business.

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Always keep daily records of how of much you make and how much you spend it may not seems needed but it will it surely prove useful in the long run, because so many business has gone bankrupt because they do not know the exact amount they spend or receive in a certain period.

Remove religious and superstitious believe from your business, when your business is going through some bad time go back to your financial record, and ask yourself this question; are you spending more than you are receiving or is your business passing though evolution change such as your customer do not find your business (food) appealing or another competitor somewhere is putting more hard work than you are? These are questions you should ask yourself.

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Giving promo and discount is what most small scale enterprise barely do as they are after profit and never into customer satisfaction. Remember you need customers to financially keep you afloat. As such you can give an offer to your customers like for example, “ a bottle of soft drink, if they buy to a certain threshold or a free meal to the first person, who buys from you” however, it all depends on the type of service you offer.

Are you into such a business or do you plan on going into it in the future, please do comment your questions and experience below, I would love to hear from you. If you find this article interesting please share with your friends and families using the share button below.

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