Boluid restaurant is undoubtedly one of the most patronised restaurant within the University due to its quality and quantity in the sales of food and drinks. UCJUI interviews its manager, Damilare Gafar on its activities, impact and plans for the University at large.
Can we meet you?
I am Damilare Gafar, popularly known as Endurance. I am the Manager of the Boluid Restaurant. I am a five hundred level student of the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Animal Science. I have been managing the restaurant for the past three years. Since I have been around, I have been able to implement some innovative ideas.
Being the Manager, can you give us a background story to how Boluid restaurant started?
Boluid restaurant has been in existence for over nineteen years; The brand was established exactly on March 3, 2000. It began operations at the same current venue; Zik Hall Cafeteria. Before we moved to this site in year 2000, we had been involved in many catering services- both indoor and outdoor. Back then, we did not have a permanent place like we do now. Ever since then, we have specialty in both local and continental dishes. In fact, as I used to tell people, when you talk about food, both local and international, Boluid restaurant is actually ready to give you the best. It is obvious to our customers.
So far, what makes Boluid Resturant to stand out among others?
Before 2017, Boluid restaurant was just like every other restaurants within the University. It means that if you go to any cafeteria in any Hall in the Varsity, you can easily juxtapose what you will get with what Boluid does. But in terms of quality and quantity, Boluid has actually standardized that as far back as the time it started operations. One thing is, nobody was there to say that they have something good. And something was actually missing. Then, people considered Boluid restaurant as probably an option and it was not a place known to most Uites; only Zikites and few Kantangites knew the Boluid restaurant. Like I said, only in 2017, we tried as much as we can do, we implemented some innovative ideas. We introduced POS. We never had some things that would attract the attention of the students ; so, we brought DSTV AND PLASMA TV with subscription to enable our customers access information and happening around the world and also for entertainment, we show the top league European Football absolute free of charge,
When we started the service, BOLUID came to limelight as it used to be filled to the brim and everybody came in due to the fact that renovation had set in and what Boluid produces might not really be got elsewhere in the University. Let me clear the atmosphere on the reason why football show is temporarily put on hold, there has been complaints as regarding why we stopped showing football games, I am here to say that we want to get enough chairs and benches to solve the problems of customers not having a place to sit during games and to ensure everyone enjoys what we put in place.
In a business like this, consistency is key, which can be said to be evident here in Boluid. How have you been able to keep that spirit up throughout the entire week, considering the number and diverse needs of your customers?
It is not easy at all. When the demands increased, we had to do some things to ensure that we met the whole demand. So, what we tried to do in most cases is to wake up as early as 4:30am. The head of the kitchen and the kitchen assistants, most times do not sleep because we have to get everything we need for the next day ready a day before. That means if we want to make salad, we have to get everything ready a night before the day we would be in need of them. So, by doing this, it would take hours . We may not be able to sleep as late as 1am but sleeping very late does not stop us from waking up at 5am. It is what our system is used to. We do that nearly every day. We only take time out – two Sundays in a month. It is something we have been doing over seventeen years.
Apart from this business, what else are you into?
We provide food for Zikites and the university at large, which is what we face squarely. That has kept us on the top of our game. People come from Zik and all over the university community . Some people come from as far as Ojoo and Orogun to eat here. During the strike, we have our customers. The question I asked was, ‘where are these people coming from?’ I realised it was as a result of what we had been doing in terms of advertisement, disclosing to people as well as convictions has made people to realise that there is a place where people can spend little money and get the best of satisfaction. Apart from UI, we go to different parts of Nigeria. For example, last year, we had a booking from some eminent personalities around Abuja. We went there. It was an outdoor service, we had to offer them what they wanted and we served. There is a popular international programme in UI here, Centre for petroleum, energy, economics and law (CPEEL) . They had their dinner award night at TAFO arena; we catered for them; about two hundred and fifty of them. Former Awo Hall chairperson too came to us and said she needed about six hundred packs of food and she wanted an affordable price. We looked at it, took the job and we delivered perfectly well. We do our services here but we try as much as possible to spread our limit beyond university of Ibadan. If you have a wedding, for an instance, all you need do is to tell us what you want and how you want it and everything will be made available.
Which other mouth-watering innovation should we be expecting from the Boluid restaurant?
I told someone recently that Boluid restaurant sees renovation as one of the major key things that an organization needs to meet the international standard . If you look around here, you will see that the environment is not beautiful enough. We are currently waiting to see the extent the renovation going on in the Hall will touch to the cafeteria. We are trying to create a VIP corner for important personalities. When you come around and you don’t want to sit among the normal students, there will be a place for you to do whatever you want to do there in accordance to university rules and regulation. By God’s grace, we want to introduce many things that have not been seen around here. Just keep your fingers crossed.
Boluid restaurant offers all sorts of food. Like every morning, we serves fried rice, white and jollof rice, ‘porrige yam’, yam and egg, salad and fruits salad, Garnished spaghetti would be introduced soon, bread and beans. For swallows, we serve semo, eba, amala, iyan, poundo yam and meat with different types of soup. You can imagine even as a local man from Agbowo and you want to eat something special, we have got you covered and we are not stopping at that. As a slay queen or foreign man, if it is shawarma or pizza you care for, you can come to Boluid and get it at an affordable price very soon. Something tantalizing, delicious and nourishing at a very little and affordable prize- is the aim. We want to have a Boluid restaurant where whatever you want at any time of the day will be made available for you.
In terms of hygiene, how well have you been able to maintain it within the restaurant?
Hygiene is a consideration for most people in choosing places to eat. For this business, good hygiene is key. It is obvious that we do not joke with good- looking conducive environment. We have a regulatory body in Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall that checks everything at least twice a week. I really commend the Health minister of this great hall and his team members because they have always been discharging their duties. Most times, as a matter of fact, we try to see if what we have is worth it. We have to ensure that everything is in order. A simple courtesy demands a hygienic environment. We promote good health here. Tidying our environment is very important. We have staffs that pack the plates once the food has been consumed. So, once they have packed the plates, if there is nylon or when some food drops on the table, we clean them as fast as possible. By doing so, the flies would not come around; contamination and food poisoning will be impossible. In our kitchen, we wash our utensils as soon as we are done using them. There is no point in keeping our dirty utensils and plates once we are done using them, except for the hard ones which are left for few more hours.
Competition is inevitable in business. How have you been able to cope with competitions?
Competition is a very good thing in business. I love it because it is one of the reasons Boluid has attained the level it is today. You are in business and all you think of is your ccustomers. But when others are doing better and you believe that you can do what they are doing or better, you will always look for different ways and different means of achieving that. We mostly take samples of opinion from people as regards what they want Boluid to do. We take note of their recommendations and we work on them. In most Cafeteria, getting porridge and efo riro as early as 9am might not be easy. We offer that earlier here. If you want yam and egg for as early as 7:30 or 8 am, Boluid will give you. If you want moin moin for as early as 10am, Boluid will give you. If you come to Boluid for as late as 10pm, you will still meet white rice with a garnished sauce. So, these are what we worked on over time and we realised that people now prefer Boluid because it is not always the same story every day.
So, speaking of the fact that you get feedbacks from customers, what can you say about your customer-relations?
This is student environment and when we are looking for the most difficult set of individuals to deal with; its students. Different ideologies. Different ideas. Different perspectives. It came as a major challenge in relating with our customers. But I am a student like them. I know the way I feel when I go to places. So, when students come around to buy their foods and issues arise, we always look for the best way to solve them. Let me give you an example- There was a particular night, a young man came and he said that he wanted food. His ticket was written and it was handed to him; just for him to pay. He inserted his card and all the transactions he did were declined. After few seconds, he ran back claiming the bank has debited him. They debited him like twice or thrice of that same amount he had attempted . In an attempt to let this man understand that the network might cause the bank to debit you and that it would be refunded, the guy tongue-bashed me. When I was about to react back, I remembered that if this place should go back, people would surely ask me. I pleaded with him. Though, the young man actually failed to listen, he left angrily. The next day, he came and confessed that the bank had refunded him. So, it happens, sometimes when we have a long queue of customers, they would fight each other. So, we would device several means of dealing with that by saying soft words even when they are at fault. But some can be troublesome though, we are praying to God to give them a soft mind so that everyone of us will enjoy one another.
Do you have plans to extend operations to other Halls in UI?
On that! Let’s just watch out. I am not going to say anything about that.
Any other thing for readers?
I just want to thank God and UCJ UI for giving me this opportunity. I really appreciate you guys and I pray that the God will continue to aid you in all that concerns you all, God bless your endeavors.
I also want to appreciate all our customers old, new and intending ones, the greatest Zikites, people from other Halls of residence and as a matter of fact, people from outside the school, Ojoo, Orogun, Water, those from Agbowo and those who heard about Boluid restaurant and come. Kiwikikart operatives, you are awesome, we say thank you guys. God bless you all. You can contact us on 08164691695, for enquires and booking.