My dream was to work in corporate law, not run a successful food business with outlets in Lagos and Abuja - Lanre Bello of Papa’s Grill

My dream was to work in corporate law, not run a successful food business with outlets in Lagos and Abuja - Lanre Bello of Papa’s Grill


Share this article


Chuckles and hearty waves of laughter; it was a hilarious and memorable conversation in Lanre’s serene sitting room. The enterprising young man shared the different businesses he has done for money and the path that has led him to Papa’s Grill immense success. 


Where did the inspiration for Papa’s grills come from? 


I don't think I had an inspiration for Papa’s Grill. I think my drive gave birth to Papa’s amongst other things. From final year uni, I really just wanted to get my hands on multiple things because that anxious question of (what’s next) was always there subconsciously. One of the other things I did was to get a driver and put my car on Uber and Taxify. I also tried the agency side of things with real estate; helping people looking to rent or buy properties and building their property portfolio, but this was straight after uni. Same as the food industry I’m in now. I had wanted to invest in a friend’s food business, but she relocated and that didn't pull through so I decided to execute with something I thought I could handle, which was grilled food.


How long have you been doing this business?

Seven years. 


Judging from your educational background, would you have imagined doing this business for a living? 


Definitely not, I thought I was going to do law


Then what changed?


Nothing drastic, I just grew out of that thought and desire. At some point, I was eager to be a corporate lawyer, but that dream fizzled out quickly as I continuously got more involved with businesses. My focus gradually shifted to building businesses or food brands. I fell in love with executing and making things work for my business every day.


What would you attribute your business growth to and what are the challenges you’ve faced building it?


People and structure, definitely. I can't even count the number of people I’ve worked with over the years across all outlets but people will either make or break your business growth. Structures are also very important. People will come and go, but your structure will forever remain what you want it to be or what your brand represents. There’s very high staff turnover in the food industry so when you find those that see your vision and are willing to stick with you, hold every single one of them tight. You might not be able to but don't hold them back and don't hold yourself back. Quality in people and quality in service. We’re always looking to improve


As for challenges, I’d say one for sure in the supply chain is rising costs. I’ve seen prices skyrocket like crazy. Products that used to cost “X” amount are now costing us a “3X '' amount, it's madness. In operations, there are a lot of daily challenges, you just have to be a problem solver and be very hands-on. I try to be as hands-on as possible. I make a lot of decisions every day


Now that you’ve mentioned that you’re always hands-on, I imagine how busy you must be.  What does your day look like? 


I personally don't think I’m busy all the time. There’s a lot more work to do in terms of growth so I cannot even afford to be busy right now. The structure has made me less busy and given me more time to focus on other things. My management team helps me with a lot of reports, decision making and execution. Everything runs through me, but my management team is expected to work independently. They’ve all been with me for more than a few years so they know how I operate. I randomly make planned or spontaneous visits to our kitchens to get a little involved in the daily operations and also to see how things or processes can be a little bit more efficient or sometimes just to see things for myself.


What does self-care mean to you as a business owner with outlets in Lagos and Abuja? 


Self-love. Finding time to take care of myself and do the things I love.

I haven't been great at self-care, but I’ve gotten better over time. I have important people in my life too that are big on self-care so I’m learning more and enjoying the difference. Sometimes I still forget to rub sunscreen




How would you say the business has impacted your finances?


It's been positive over time. I’ve had to use my commissions to pay for salaries in the past, but I’m glad those days are over. I also have other businesses but it’s impacting me more now than when I first started.


How do you decide when to open a new branch?  


Lowkey I always feel it's time to open a new branch somewhere. I just need to be mentally ready then I ginger my team and we execute. But we decide on where to open by deliberating and researching things like area density, purchasing power, healthy or unhealthy competition for us, rent, local government policies etc.

We have areas we deliver and areas we don’t deliver to. We are more likely to open locations in areas we don’t deliver to. So for example, right now we’re in Lekki but we don’t deliver to Ajah. I’m eager to open in Chevron and further down. I wouldn’t think of Ikoyi because we can deliver to you from Lekki. Chai! I can't wait for us to open in Chevron.


Is there an overall plan you have with Papa’s like you want to be a national thing like what’s the goal?


Papa’s is going into franchising at some point. It's in the works somewhere. We just need to get there


Uhmm…Franchising sounds so fantastic! So, franchising is the ultimate goal you would say. 


Yeah, it is.


Okay. And then last question, asides from your food business, how else do you make a daily 2k? 


Asset investments, more recently a supply chain and logistics company (IPC) that helps food businesses source for raw materials, procure goods on credit, store, and logistics service within their environs.


Similar Post


Own Your Future