by Lolade Odeyemi
Apart from offerings at restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other relaxation spots that add great value to evening-hour fraternization and trading activities, the ‘Suya’ frenzy has remained one fascinating side-attraction that has for years embellished the beauty of ‘nightlife’ in Nigeria.
As most people work till evenings, late-night ‘chill time’ and shopping, specifically for food items, prepared meals and snacks, have become an irreversible trend.
As such, hospitality businesses and most petty trading activities come alive when puffs of dark clouds hit the country’s skyline, giving room for bright lamps and electric bulbs to light up the scenery for a sea of traders, comprising night merchants and ‘round the clock’ traders, who flood the busy streets and roads with their wares.
However, for so many buyers, the merchandise that makes the night trade complete without any form of advert or marketing is roasted peppered meat, popularly called ‘Suya.’
As a matter of fact, “Suya’ spots have become one routinely stop for many people who like to unwind in relaxation spots after a long hard day’s work and for others who prefer to purchase the roasted meat and head straight home to kickback with some ‘cassava’ flakes popularly called ‘Garri’ or mix with meals like noodles.
Mostly garnished with onions, pepper and sometimes other vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes and cucumber, the thinly cut meat and animal parts from cow, ram, chicken is usually roasted over open-air fire, filling the air with an irresistible scent that beckons to the salivary glands, sending yearning people in cars and on foot trooping down to the ‘Suya’ spot to make budgeted or impulsive purchases.
Despite originating from the northern part of the country, the consumption of ‘Suya’, has remained a popular culture in Nigeria for years, enjoying a wide and patronage from the South, North, East and West, especially in the major cities where the social life is on the high side.
The popularity and craze for the merchandize has therefore accounted for the impressive sales, recorded especially by the very skilled ‘Suya’ vendors, whose enterprises thrive on large referrals from customers who relish the lingering excitement from eating the tasty piece of roasted meat.
As such, ‘Suya’ is today one of the fastest moving small enterprises in the country and best believe it; the popularity of the business is as massive as the profit. Although in time past, the business was left solely in the hands of northerners who are the originators, today; many observant individuals have spotted a goldmine in the trade.
To this end, different individuals have ventured into the business, hiring experienced ‘Suya’ makers to handle the trade. In addition, ‘Suya’ spots in most part of the country are not just stand-alones, they are attached to restaurants, relaxation spots and bars to add spice to customers’ experience.
A ‘Suya’ vendor at Ogudu,,G.R.A, Lagos, who chatted excitedly about the business and sales, revealed that one major secret of a successful ‘Suya’ business is having very tasty and seasoned meat garnished with a lot of vegetables. Reinforcing the viability of the business, he stated that there really isn’t a day without customers. He said he starts setting up his spot by 2pm in the afternoon and by 4pm, business begins to boom with school children kicking off patronage, then workers and people in cars begin to converge afterwards.
He said: I am always happy to see many cars and people every evening waiting to buy my ‘Suya.’
According to him, some people spend as much as N5,000 and even more in one night buying either beef or chicken ‘Suya’ and other parts of meat. He added that on a very busy night, which happens to be most nights, he makes more than a whooping N50, 000, an equivalent of the monthly salary of a handful of Nigerian graduates today.
With the trade raking in unbelievable daily income, it must be encouraging to know that the cost of starting up the business is not as suffocating as that of some other business. No matter the cost incurred in running the business in terms of purchasing the grill stand, buying meat, ingredients, vegetables, foil paper or newspaper for wrapping, fuel, for many who use generators to power lights around the area of sale and paying for space to set up, the vendor recovers his capital in no time and still make massive profit.
Asides the fact that many of the successful ‘Suya’ merchants have effortlessly built a massive customer base, the most interesting of all the perks of the ‘Suya’ business is that owners and vendors are smiling to the bank on a daily basis. Now how is that for a profitable enterprise?