Chef Simileoluwa Adebajo, earlier this month, opened the doors to Eko Kitchen, Nigeria’s first restaurant in San Francisco, California.
This comes months after a viral tweet announcing plans to quit a finance job and take haute cuisine to the US west coast.
Located in the South of Market neighborhood, the restaurant permanently occupies Joint Venture Kitchen (167 11th St.), which is otherwise a rotating pop-up space for local food businesses.
Adebajo said her first dinner service on May 3 involved a bit of a steep learning curve.
“I learned quickly that apparently, the prep we did wasn’t comprehensive enough, and it was taking an hour for people to get their food,” Adebajo said. “By the next night, we figured it out. We knew what to expect.”
At this point, Eko Kitchen only operates as a traditional restaurant on the weekends with a sit-down dinner service Friday and Saturday. Both lunch and dinner are available Sunday.
Adebajo originally planned to also serve dinner at the restaurant Monday through Thursday, splitting the days with a Mexican food business, but she shifted her focus to catering and delivery after noticing its popularity.
The next step, she said, will be to expand to hosting pop-up versions of the restaurant in other locations across the Bay Area.
“People get tired of the same experiences. I don’t want to be one of these places that opens for two years and just closes,” Adebajo said.
As for the chef’s viral fame in April, the source of which was a post shared more than 16,000 times and liked another 57,000 times on the Twitter, it hasn’t been much of a boon to business. But that was something Adebajo anticipated.
“I know social media is not real life,” she said. “To their credit, some have showed up from social media. But to all those other people who said they were going to come when I open and haven’t yet, I just have one thing to say: Come through.”
Yeah…go support a sister and get satisfied doing it.
It’s win-win, really!