Olakunle Adegbite is an upwardly-mobile socialite, he is doing well not just for himself but has also hit some gold of sorts with his hospitality outfit, Sidewalk can easily be described as the biggest open pub in Lagos. Sidewalk, with branches in Ikeja, Victoria Island and soon to be launched in Ikeja GRA has continued to draw attention, with the massive patronage from both the middle and high-class personalities. According to Kunle, the instant success recorded by Sidewalk is attributed to his passion for entertainment and determination to make a success of it. He shares his amazing 10-year success story in this interview. Excerpts…
Sidewalk is a very unique outdoor bar, how did you develop the concept?
We came about with the concept in 2015. We were set out to do a unique outdoor bar; we wanted to move away from the normal bar that you find around. We wanted to be different from the normal beer parlour and upgrade to the level where we can bring the elite to unwind under a relaxed atmosphere. That was the motive.
The choice of Sidewalk, did you see it as a setback the fact that you had to do it within building or it suited what you wanted?
One thing that is unique about setting up Sidewalk was that, we consider the location; the address really mattered to us. We looked out for a location that we felt would be appropriate in terms of accessibility, security and class. Even at that, we needed to start from somewhere. So, we started in that building in Ikeja, though the building where we started from was not built for that purpose. The purpose then was to do something on the sidewalk by the building. We later realized that we had to move to a site that was purposely built for it.
How did you get involved in entertainment, precisely what informed the idea of setting up an outdoor bar?
I have loved entertainment from the outset. I had wined and dined at premium places. There was a place that I used to unwind when I was growing up in Ibadan. Anytime I visit Ibadan, I find that the place is still there, though a beer parlour. Within that period when I was patronizing the place, many club houses had opened and closed down but this parlour remains. So, I asked myself why is it that beer parlours are not closing down when premium places are closing down; why do beer parlours last longer than the clubs? Then I decided to do something based on the fact that I had passion for it.
Do you do any other thing aside running an entertainment outfit?
Yes, I’m also into medical tourism. I work with an Arabian healthcare group in Dubai. I have another Sidewalk bar in Dubai as well.
Before you opened the Sidewalk Lounge in Victoria Island, how was the business like in Ikeja where you have the first branch?
It’s been good. I’m proud to say that we have pioneered so many things in Ikeja. The Ikeja Sidewalk, I would say, is doing well. But because the Ikeja building was not purposely erected for such a mega business, we decided to move to Victoria Island. And soon, we are having a mega bar in Ikeja GRA.
We noticed that a lot of other outdoor bars have sprung up along your Ikeja axis, what has the competition been like?
For three years, we enjoyed the monopoly of the market. Now, it is becoming very competitive. But we are still ahead of others. In Ikeja, very soon, we are coming back for a total repackaging. The only challenge we have in Ikeja is that the building does not belong to us. But our services are okay for the clients, so we are going to respond appropriately to any competition.
You once toyed with the idea of setting up a club, one of the most exquisite in Ikeja. What happened along the line?
That is correct. I actually had a plan to diversify into clubbing business, indoor bar and other stuffs but I realized that in Ikeja, it was not going to work. So, we are now fully focused on outdoor bar business. The club in Ikeja was just an idea to test the market but we realized early enough that it wasn’t our calling. So, we jettisoned the idea.
At what point did you decide to move to the Island?
I believe in delayed gratification. The plan since the idea came up three years ago was to make sure that every year, there must be a new Sidewalk. In 2015, we had Sidewalk Ikeja, in 2016 we had Sidewalk Plus and in 2017 we had Sidewalk Victoria Island. In 2018, we didn’t set up a new Sidewalk; we had rather developed the Sidewalk Victoria Island and turned it to the most sought-out for outdoor bar. But in 2019, God’s willing; we are going to set up Sidewalk Ikeja GRA.
We noticed also that Budweiser, the king of beers, is heavily involved in your Victoria Island business, what is the connection like?
Yes. We are partnering with Budweiser, but I wouldn’t like to go into the business details. And it is not a long term deal. It’s just about one year partnership.
What is the entertainment package like for the Sidewalk Lounge in Victoria Island?
We have karaoke night every Thursday, we have live band on Wednesdays. Every Friday night we have variety night with DJs, on Saturdays we are planning to introduce comedy night. Every three months, we have started last month with Sidewalk Legend Night, for living legends. At the maiden edition, we had K1 de Ultimate. The next edition would feature King Sunny Ade performing live at Sidewalk Lounge. Everything that we have at Sidewalk Ikeja is available here also. We have everything up-to-date, the modern restaurant, local dishes and all.
What is the Sidewalk Ikeja GRA going to be like in terms of services?
The Sidewalk Ikeja GRA is going to be the most premium. It’s a big thing we are going to do there. It’s going to be a new Country Club coming to GRA, Ikeja. It’s not going to be by membership. But it’s going to be for certain category of people in the society. By December 2019, we should have the GRA Ikeja Sidewalk.
The Sidewalk Ikeja GRA; will it in anyway affect the Sidewalk Ikeja on Awolowo Way?
One will not affect the other. They are two different concepts entirely. The Sidewalk on Awolowo Way is more of guests coming to drink and eat. But the Sidewalk GRA Ikeja is coming with gym, lawn tennis club, swimming pool and other facilities for relaxation.
Have you had a situation whereby people who know you in the medical tourism sector came to relax at Sidewalk and were shocked to know that you are the owner?
Yes, it has happened, even recently. People are surprised because it’s two different things mixing together. This is just me at work. It’s my passion at play. This is what I love to do and I’m putting my money there.
Now that you have a regular job and this, how do you relax?
At Sidewalk, the structures are there. Whenever I sit down, I try to relax there. Above all, I relax mostly when I’m with my family. And I do that a lot. Besides, I do a lot of travels if I feel like relaxing more.
What are the other things that you enjoy doing?
I’m an Arsenal fan, I enjoy watching football. That part of me that people don’t really know is that I’m spiritual. I attend the Redeemed Church.