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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Abuja restaurant operators deploy creativity to attract patronage

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After a long lockdown, civil servant Esther Brooke is heading out for dinner in Nigeria’s capital Abuja – in a cave.

Well, a cave-themed restaurant at least – complete with an indoor waterfall, masked waiters and even a couple of gorillas.

After months of construction, Kapadoccia launched in March – one of a number of Nigerian restaurants hoping a unique experience will lure diners back after a year of seclusion.

“We don’t really know what to expect, the menu is a bit spooky and twisted but…it’s nice because we need this kind of thing. Even if you are indoors and cooking all those things, you don’t get the same vibe you get when you are in a restaurant.”

Like in many countries, lockdowns have hit Nigeria’s hospitality sector.

Though less than 1 percent of the population is fully inoculated, a vaccine rollout has brought some relief and businesses are opening up.

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One is The Living Room, also in Abuja.

Founder Jade Ogbeh created the space for her hotel guests but in March opened its doors to the general public.

“It is kind of boring going out to just sit and eat at a restaurant table and go home so I do feel like businesses are trying to get more people out and in order to do that, they are coming up with creative ways to do that. So you have restaurants that are cave-like, you have the likes of the living room which is like a living room.”

In her restaurant, diners can relax on a settee and eat their dinner off a coffee table. The room also has a mini-library and a television.

The perfect setting, perhaps, for those struggling to adjust as the population emerges from more than a year of indoor isolation.

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