Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lanre Folarin, Director of Flo's Grill Inc., located in Woodbridge, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Flo’s Grill is a Nigerian restaurant, lounge, and chill spot. Our business is to provide an experience to our customers. We specialize in serving delicious, wholesome meals made from high-quality ingredients with lots of love and care with the aim of giving you a foodgasm. Our customers come from all walks of life, and we play host to people of different descent. We cater to a wide range of tastes and offer a variety of dishes to suit every palate.
We welcome everyone to our restaurant and strive to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere where anyone can relax and enjoy their food, drinks, conversations, or games. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a leisurely dining experience, we are here to serve you. The vibe is different on different days. Friday nights: groovy, music playing, watching sports games, playing games. During the week: mostly chill, watching basketball games, a place where people can just hang out and enjoy good food.
Tell us about yourself
Cooking is therapeutic for me. I used to grill just for friends & family. I used the be the guy behind the grill at every family hangout. I sent food to a friend randomly, and he loved it and, in turn, got me to make food for the company where he worked. That’s how Flo’s Grill started catering events back home in Nigeria.
After moving to a new country- Canada! I tried to build a community for myself. I would invite friends over, I’ll cook and grill, and we’d all have a good time, but they would constantly ask to make it into a business as there were hardly any Nigerian restaurants in my community. Prior to moving, I was a full-time entrepreneur it was a no-brainer when a need presented itself.
In 2021 we began searching for locations and places to build our business. Despite the pandemic, we were growing month to month. We selected Vaughan as it was central to our customer base. The idea, when we started the business, was to create a cozy little spot anyone in Canada could come experience Nigerian food, grab a great meal, and have a good time. A place where people can come into the store and say, “look, that’s my table.”
My business partner and I took a big risk! Found a physical location, started cooking, and offered delivery services across the GTA. We literally put in all we had, physically, mentally, and financially but today, I am thankful it was worth it.
What motivates me each day to do what I do is the joy that I see on my customers’ faces when they taste our food. It brings me great satisfaction to know that we are introducing people to authentic flavors and our Nigerian cultural experience. It’s a big deal to know that they are enjoying the food enough to keep coming back.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Consistently delivering high-quality food and service that keeps the customers coming back. Building a loyal customer base is no small feat, a vast number have become brand champions, and being able to provide employment in the community we operate our business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The rollercoaster of entrepreneurship! The many moving parts! Finding and retaining great talent without breaking the bank, managing expenses in the middle of inflation whilst not adjusting your quantities, quality of product, and standards as a business. As a business owner, it’s essential to be agile, adaptable, and resilient in the face of many challenges.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start! Make that move! Take the risk! But have a clear and unique value proposition that would set you apart from the others in the market and those yet to come.
- Surround yourself with a team of positive and skilled individuals who share your vision and values.
- Continuously learn and adapt - be open to receiving feedback and be willing to put it to use for the growth of your business, stay up to date with the latest trends in your industry, and, most important tip - never stop grinding!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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