There has been a sustained increase in the number of eateries across the country, where many Nigerians have become loyal customers, while many women have lost their art of good cooking at home. Gabriel Ewepu examines what is responsible for this trend.
Over the years, fast food outlets and restaurants have grown in leaps and bounds into different sizes and shapes, as the competition gets keener in the bid to woo customers in major towns and cities across the country to maximise profit. Some of them have gone mobile and technological in serving their customers by taking their goods and services to the doorsteps of their customers: at homes, schools, place of work, business premises, bus stops, conferences and religious gatherings.
Owners of fast food outlets and restaurants say they are out to assist those people whose busy schedules and nature of work does not give them enough time to prepare their meals at home, and also, to reduce their burden of shopping and cooking, by providing them these services.
They also claim that they adhere to best health practices in serving their esteemed customers, and debunk some claims people make against them whenever they experience some food related ailments, rather they organise trainings on food handling practices and safety for their staff.
From all indications, most of these restaurants have taken the place of kitchens at home, where women carry out their primary assignments for the family to go on. Cooking and eating together was a true African culture that made the family bond more stronger, but today most ladies do not know how to prepare good meals as they are now loyal to ‘roadside kitchens’.
One of the managing directors of fast foods and restaurants, Chief Agala Okute, said one of the best things that have happened to the socio-economic lives of Nigerians is the emergence of various fast foods outlets and restaurants, and it is in the interest of Nigerians and the economy.
He said, “We are established for the good and betterment of the society, as it concerns their high performance and productivity in their businesses and other engagements, because most of them do not have ample time to go to the market for shopping and preparing their meals. There are people who just come to town and do not have anybody to lodge with that can prepare their meals, prefer to eat at the restaurant or fast food outlet.”
We in this sub-sector have done a lot of research and have come up with innovations and creativity to serve customers better; we have now taken the ‘kitchen’ and ‘dining hall’ to where our customers are, making them feel as if they are in their homes despite they find themselves in the office, business premises, conferences, schools, religious gatherings and bus stops.”
Speaking on hygiene, Okute said, “In terms of hygiene, we regularly bring health experts to properly educate our cooks, stewards and purchasing officers on best health practices on food-handling. We don’t trivialise with hygiene and health matters as it concerns our business.”
“Talking about price, we all understand the economic situation and financial base of our customers. We considerably place price on our products for affordability and patronage. But not at a loss, rather for us to be in business and serve our customers better,” Okute added.
The group of people who patronise fast food outlets and restaurants are mostly bachelors and spinsters, and recently families are now part of the train. Some do have their breakfast, lunch and dinner at these eateries. It has become the habit of most families to patronise them, thereby exposing their families to unhealthy lifestyles.
The excuse of some mothers, especially the working class and business women, claim to be busy and lack quality time to perform their primary assignment in their kitchens. It is pathetic; most families have replaced their kitchens with eateries, whereby they have become lazy.