In Ibadan right now, everybody is talking about one classy lounge called Stone Cafe, lbadan. lt is a beautiful place where all the Biģ Boys and babes hangout to unwind and catch fun.
A few days back, City People Publisher, Seye Kehinde spoke to the Founder and CEO, Asiwaju Segun Olalere about the Lounge which was opened early this year.
Congratulations on the setting up of Stone Cafe. Tell me about it?
Thank you very much. It’s always been my dream and desire to have something like this; especially something befitting for Ibadan.
I have travelled a bit and I have always cringed at the fact that just about anything goes in my beloved City, despite the profits the owners rake from Ibadan.
So, from word-go, we had it in mind to do something that will be a sort of tourist attraction; something people would really wonder if it’s really in Ibadan.
And to the glory of God, this has been the case.
And that’s why we ensured we added “Ibadan” (Stone Café Ibadan) as a suffix to our brand name from inception so people would know it’s actually in that same ancient City.
Furthermore, we also wanted to ensure people actually get value for money and exceptional service for their patronage, so it won’t just be about a top-notch ambience.
And to the glory of God, we have been successful at this. Special thanks to the people of Ibadan and beyond for accepting what we came up with and associating with our brand.
We promise to do even much more.
How did you set it up? And when did you open it?
We all know how difficult it’s for start-ups in Nigeria. No one wanted to help and it was almost impossible getting credit facilities.
I relocated in 2014 from the UK to set up the business here and like we learnt in business school, I knew that location was very pivotal to the business. In fact, it was the most important in my order of importance.
And to the glory of God, I got the property in 2014 and then came through an almost insurmountable mountain.
It was hard to get funds to continue. There seemed to be a brick wall everywhere I turned. I quickly became the butt of jokes, and many thought I was mad for holding on to my dreams. First-year become the third year and the project looked very bleak.
But I kept my faith and head up high. Everything I earned went into the project.
There were many days I would come here all alone, break down and just pray and cry! God was all I had and my heart I poured out to Him often.
I will not hurriedly forget how many friends told me to let go of the dream and the ones who even offered to buy it off me, but I kept moving, even though it was like a crawl.
I just wouldn’t let go of my dreams.
It took 6 long years! And that’s why I say to everyone out there to never give up on themselves.
I had many moments of doubts but I held on regardless.
To everyone reading this, never give up on your dreams! God makes no mistakes! If He gave you the dream, He would come through for you
And that’s where I got the name from; “The stone the builders rejected, has now become the Chief Cornerstone” the Holy Bible.
Finally, we opened Jan 3, 2020. Exactly 6 years after and we have been growing in leaps and bounds.
Tell us about you. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I am Asiwaju Segun Olalere. I was born March 14th in the city of Ibadan. My parents are from Ibadan, Oyo State, Chief Kolawole and Lola Olalere; both of them of blessed memory
I grew in Ibadan and I have fond memories of the ancient city.
I lived at several places in Ibadan and mingled with all manner of people. This made me a very sociable person and equally understanding of diverse characters.
This, I now enjoy in the business I presently do.
Tell me about the schools you attended and courses
I attended Queens’ of Apostle, Oluyoro, Oke-Offa, Ibadan for my primary education. Then Bashorun Ojoo High School, Ashi, Ibadan was where I had my secondary school education, but I left at form 4 to continue and finish at Loyola College, Ibadan.
For my tertiary education, I went to The Polytechnic Ibadan, where I bagged my OND and HND in Marketing.
And then, the University of Greenwich for my B.A Hons in International Business
I also have an MBA from the same University. I also have a diploma in project management amongst other certifications here and there.
We never really stop learning
How do you see Events and Entertainment business in Ibadan?
I laugh when people say Ibadan is an emerging market. Ibadan has been a major commercial nerve for years but many haven’t taken proper cognizance of this.
There are a plethora of multinationals in the city. There is no bank without several branches here (some of them few meters apart) and you would be amazed at how many highly sociable people in Nigeria who have one or more homes here.
From the personal study, I have seen that the “open day” of many businesses in Nigeria rake in more money here than anywhere else.
The narrative of Ibadan people only being “Amala eating people” is long obsolete.
So this is my call to everyone out there looking for a viable place to do business, Ibadan is the in-thing! The seriously untapped goldmine.
It would also amaze you the relative peace we enjoy here; the ease of vehicular traffic and the attendant low cost of getting things done.
And as a footnote, the entertainment business really has a lot to do with your social currency as an individuals
And it’s imperative to state here that we are soon opening a new branch in Ibadan and also outside of Ibadan in the months to come.
We will be having as we round off the year, the very Fuji maestro; King Wasiu Ayinde Mayegun on the 27th of December at our place to serenade our esteemed friends and family of the Stone Café brand
Stone Cafe is located at Plot 2, 3B Mogaji Aare Avenue,
Off MKO Abiola Way, Town Planning, Beside Travel House Hotel/First Bank, Ring Road. Ibadan. Oyo State, Nigeria Instagram handles: @stonecafeibadan