Yemi Kalejaiye, in this interview with ROTIMI IGE, narrates his experience investing in the hospitality industry in Port-Harcourt and how his lounge is changing the face of nightlife in the city.
Tell us a bit about yourself and early years
I would like to describe myself as a project manager and an entrepreneur. I believe these two are not mutually exclusive but distinct as not all entrepreneurs are project managers and vice versa. A project manager is one who delivers an agreed objective within the assigned budget and time frame while an entrepreneur is one who spots a need and put together the resources to satisfy that need in a profitable manner to sustain the cost of satisfying that need. Hence, TheCourtyardGRA was birthed.
How did you develop interest in hospitality?
I guess it’s a typical situation of preparation meeting planning, as I realised I was spending quite a lot of money in getting the specific foods and drinks I required in most especially in Port-Harcourt City where I reside. Coupled with the state of insecurity in the state, I sought to provide a serene, friendly, and clean environment where my friends and I could meet up after work, have dinner and/or a few drinks while gather to proceed to the night clubs or home.
You have an outfit in Port Harcourt. Tell us about the entertainment landscape in the city?
Well, Port-Harcourt is unique in the sense that citizens like visiting new spots. They also, like to be seen while out and finally they want something different from the rest. The Courtyard is located in the Autograph Mall in the Government Reserved Area (GRA)
What challenges have you faced since you started the business?
Since our launch in January 2019, business has gone through a myriad of challenges ranging from retain trust worth and dedicated staff, to replacement of faulty equipment and assets, lack of funding to achieve the final look and feel as was intended, Elections and post elections activities and more importantly the high state of insecurity In the metropolis hindering night activities for the populace.
Where do you see your brand in the next five years?
I hope to become a household brand nationwide. I hope to have a branch in every state capital and be the preferred choice for evening relaxation, small events hosting, home food delivery and outdoor catering service provider.
What makes your Spaghetti Bolognaise different from the rest in Port Harcourt?
We pride ourselves in using 100 per cent natural ingredients that are bought on the day and cooked on order (in record time). It also has the right mix of peppers, not just the chilli but the green peppers too.
Share with us, your favorite recipe?
It should be our fried yam and sweet potatoes with Cow head sauce which involves stir frying the onions, green pepper, chilli peper, tomatoes with per-boiled diced beef (cow head). This is then served with the deep fried the yam and sweet potatoes
Tell us how you relax?
I relax by hanging out with friends after a long work day and catching up over a couple of cocktails (long island, black Russian) or a mint Mexican beer while eating barbequed meat (suya, chicken, turkey) and plantains (Boli).