Chit Chat With . . .
at S FIVE 8
Bar, Lounge & Restaurant
They come with an abundance of experience in the hospitality trade, be it a chef in a Café, a Barista in a coffee shop, a kitchen assistant at Universities or a bar staff at a pub. Moving on to creating a takeaway business "Koroga House" where they showcased their talent and love for homemade curries. It was time to break the barriers and test the waters and what a place to begin their journey in a patriarchy culture. This month our Chit Chat is with Boss Ladies, from S FIVE 8, Bar, Lounge & Restaurant, who talk about the venture, morning routine, winding down, and living the dream.
How did you come up with the idea of the rooftop venture?
In summer 2019 turned to be a year of great ideas born in the UK. Following the success of our little venture of takeaways in the UK, my sisters and I sat down at our dinning table with a bottle of Larios Rosé gin when a beautiful song called Heeriye by Hydr was playing on the radio. We quickly shazaamed this and heard it on repeat. It was then we looked at each other and said "wouldn't it be amazing to have our own restaurant to run?" And soon after, we found ourselves looking for locations in the UK. A couple of weeks later we re-evaluated our decision and decided to begin our venture in Mombasa, Kenya.
How did you come about with the name of the restaurant SFIVE8?
We were already operating under the name of Koroga House in the UK where we were doing takeaways for our homemade curries. We had a lot of feedback asking us to open a restaurant. After we reconsidered our location, we also reconsidered re-branding to S Five 8. Why S Five 8? Being born and bred in a small town called Nakuru, we lived in an area called Section fifty-eight. And it was a no brainer to call our venture S Five 8.
In a patriarchy culture, what challenges have you faced as women owned business?
Wow. Being a woman is already a challenge. Owning and running a business is probably the first step towards overcoming this challenge. Owning and running a bar and lounge, now that's a new one. The most challenging part was dealing with suppliers during the construction of our venture. We were taken advantage of and received poor service and being over charged. But we got through that and turned things around by sticking to our plans and watching it all come to life. Then on, we faced the challenge of "it won't work". But one of the biggest things we had was people wanting to invest in our new venture when they saw it up and running well, rather than when we were looking for investors before the grand opening. But overcoming these challenges have really made us stronger as individuals and as a business.
How has the concept been received by the local culture?
To begin with, it was a little worrying because not many people knew us so they didn't want to try something that was out of their comfort zone. Eventually word got out and people started to show up at the lounge. I feel like we have worked our way through the locals and created a rapport with the customers. After all, we are sociable individuals with modern minds but the traditional ways of being.
What means do you take to keep trending?
Social media and word of mouth. There is a mixed group of different ages on the social platforms, and we target those markets to advertise our events and offers. We also use a WhatsApp broadcast group to reach out to people who aren't likely to be on social platforms.
Do you hold events at the restaurants, if so, what sort of events have you held?
Yes! So after we opened doors to the public, our first event was a fashion show with a perfume launch, Adore by Noreen. Following this, we hosted a make-up tutorial session by a make-up artist, a meet and greet with the Chop It sisters and many other birthday parties. These events have really given us the exposure and have also been a great pleasure to have them on board.
Out of all the events you hosted, which one was a favourite event that you enjoyed hosting?
All the events we held hold a special place in our hearts for each one had its own unique purpose. Please don't make us to choose! Haha!
How do you motivate your staff to thrive?
Unlike most bosses, we have created a relationship with our members of staff where they are comfortable enough to have a laugh with us and tell us when there is an issue they are facing. Looking after your staff is always key, for they will get motivated to do better. Constant feedback, bonuses, credit and recognition where due is highly recommended. Most recently, we took our staff out to another establishment named Char Choma for our Christmas meal. We have seen a great improvement in the way our staff perform, for which, we are grateful.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting a restaurant venture for the first time?
Do your research, spend some time in your potential locations and see what the trade is like. Use local vendors to work for you as you're giving the country a better economic flow - all our work from construction to tables & chairs have been contracted out to locals in Mombasa. And the best part of this, people think it’s all from abroad! Another tip for anyone starting up for the first time, stay motivated, show up every day, come up with creative and innovative ideas to promote your business.
Do you have a morning routine to set you for the day?
Breakfast with the family always sets us for the day. Having our niece and nephew join us in the morning with their little chitter, and chatter is just a caffeine fix in itself. Other than that, waking up in the morning with a smile and being appreciative of this wonderful opportunity we have received is a great day setter.
What’s your go-to way of winding down after a long day?
Our long days are long nights! Haha! If we close in the wee hours of the morning, it's usually the sunrise by the beach or our balcony of the apartment we live in and straight to bed thereafter. Other ways we choose to relax is booking a massage, pampering ourselves to a haircut or treatment.
What do you like the most about being your own boss?
The fact that the boss is never late! Being in control of the entire floor, not just a department and really being creative with new ideas to be introduced.
What do you dislike the most about being your own boss?
We don't. We love every bit of being our own bosses as this is our passion that we have followed.
What is the one word that you want people to associate you with?
S Five 8
How has the pandemic affected you?
We have been very lucky actually. When we opened our venture, we adjusted to the curfew, we were allowed to stay open till 9 p.m. and by 10 p.m. everyone had to be home. After this, the only way was up, and the government decided to lift the curfew. So, we have been blessed.
How do you contribute to the community?
By giving back to them. When we opened our place, we hired out locals to make the furniture for us. They did this in a quarter the price of a designer and more efficiently with a classy and simple look to maintain the theme of S Five 8. We have many other ideas to execute for working with the communities around us and giving them opportunities that many people lack.
If you were not boss ladies of SFIVE8, what would you be doing?
We enjoy being the Boss Ladies.
How can people contact you?
Mob: +254745938378/ +254797059085
Photos by Harman Singh Heer
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