TANTV10K is an original series, a Covid-19 initiative where we highlight how Black-owned businesses are staying innovative as we continue to combat the pandemic. These are innovators of the pandemic! We aim to end this series when we reach our goal of documenting 10,000 Black business founders or CEOs. Follow the series on Facebook & Instagram @tantv10k.
During the pandemic, Obi Onuoha knew that he would have to pivot quickly to stay afloat. Onuoha is the founder of Jollof Etcetera. The African restaurant is located in Landover Hills, Maryland. Jollof Etcetera is an Offspring of Quizine Africana, a Nigerian restaurant in Lagos. It represents a bold attempt to refine and present the rich delicacies of Nigeria, Africa to the American public.
Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses—some 440,000 enterprises—have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses.
“Surprisingly it hasn’t affected us in a negative way,” said Onuoha,
The fact is, we lost some business for the first month but subsequently the business kind of increased.
In April, business picked back up for the restaurant. They’ve had a 20% increase in business recently.
Onuoha was aware that with these new rules for restaurants they were going to have to take on Covid-19 compliance measures. The current location on 7463 Annapolis Road has removed all dine-in features such as dining tables and chairs, installed partitioned glass barriers for the safety of the staff and customers, social distancing signs on the doors and walls, touch free hand sanitizers as well as staff wearing masks and hand gloves, and created social distancing standing room only for pick-ups and delivery.
TANTV did a one week feasibility case study on the African restaurant Jollof Etcetera, to understand how COVID-19 has affected the restaurant. We found out that 60% of customers preferred take out than dine-in. “The study was very helpful because we found out their preparedness to dine-in and how they feel about our food and customer service.” Onuoha said. “After July, we've had some increase in our sales more than it was before Covid.” The culture of people coming to dine-in has changed to a now purely takeout and delivery option at this African restaurant.
Customers expect quality African food and that's exactly what we serve with quick service. If you want good food it doesn't come out rushed. We don't sell fries, we sell native African food where everything is cooked from scratch.
They have decided to open a second branch which will allow for a better dining experience where customers can have the luxury, comfort and safety feel of dining-in while abiding by Covid-19 safety rules such as social distancing sitting. “This location is set up for dine-in to satisfy our customers who have been yearning to sit and eat. We want to satisfy our customers completely, since our current location has been changed to take-out only. We want a cozy environment that is Covid-19 compliant." Onuoha said.
A place where customers can feel comfortable dining in with their families and friends.
The new space is located on 7455 Annapolis Road, MD.
This interview was anchored and written by TANTV Journalist Cheyanne Gordon.