Grill Food: Enduring Heat, Making Money

Grills-Copy Brings Big Money With Little, Careful Effort
NO matter the situation, man must make out time to relax with his family and friends. While some would prefer the beach or some resort, others simply go to a nearby drinking joint to listen to live band, while the cool evening breeze caresses their bodies.

As many people go to these fun places, some business conscious people stand at the corner to provide light meals, such as grilled fish, meat and chicken, to go down with the drinks. Aside from being located at around hospitality homes, these chefs could be found in busy malls and could be hired to serve in parties or any event.

According to Mohammed, who has been in the business for over a decade, grilling fish or meat puts one resort above other operators in the food business.

“It is a business that involves coming in contact with open fire and at times, one gets burnt. But the good thing about it is that it brings big money. It is not seasonal. It brings steady income

“I make between N20,000 to N25,000 on ordinary day and N40,000 to N60,000 on Fridays and Saturdays, and sometimes more on Sundays. No matter the situation, men would always have fun. In fact some people do not enjoy their drinks until they have grilled fish or chicken to go with it.

“A medium size of grilled tilapia sells for N1,500 and N2,000 and a little higher during European football season, because of the demand. While half chicken goes for N2,000 to N2,500. The least I make on any of the items is N800, do you see what I mean when I said it’s like an oil well to me?” he disclosed.

Does one need a special training to go into it? Ahmed Musa, who once worked as a cook in a hotel before branching out to run a steakhouse said it depends on who is involved. According to him, some people acquire the skill while helping others to sell, yet there are others who acquired the knowledge from a cooking school; but all the same, once one understands how to mix the different recipe to achieve good result that would make people demand for the product, then he/she is on the go.

“A new entrant does not need much training, he/she must first know how to handle fish like tilapia or croaker or any fish of choice with care, so that it does not break to pieces. Apart from this, he/she must have a good knowledge of the recipe, know when to make the grill fish taste hot or mild,” he said.

For Muhammed, it is a business anybody that likes cooking could start. The materials to guild my fireplace could be easily improvised by a welder that is, if one cannot do them by himself.

He said: “ Get a welder to construct a grill, put it on a half cut small size metal drum or wide frying pot and the main material for business is set. Other materials needed include; getting the fish, chicken or any other meat that one may want to sell and, of course, where and how to get your ingredients.

“Any potential investor could start with N20,000. I started with N10,000 three years ago and today, I have over N200,000 in my account. It is a business that could make one keep late nights and also to come in contact with people of different taste. For example, while some would say they want plenty of pepper or spice, others would want plenty of salt, and yet, another group would want one to prepare it in his/her own way; what matters is satisfying one’s customers, which has been my selling point.

“I use black pepper, thyme or dried oregano to add herby taste and flavour. Other ingredients include; ground kuli kuli (peanut butter), ground red chili pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder, curry powder and salt. In fact, it is one thing to know all the recipes, but another thing to know how to mix them to get the desired flavour. The real job is actually in the mixing of the recipes; it is here that one could make or destroy the taste of the meat or chicken,” he revealed.

How do people accept grilled food? Aliu, who has been doing the business for the past 10 years, disclosed that the business is now seen as part of entertaining business and is well accepted.

“There’s hardly any entertainment centre where one would not see fish or meat grill around. It has become part of hotel and tourism business. Some people come to drinking joints to savour grilled chicken or fish; they prefer it to eating solid food and it is all to our (operators) good. I make close to N100,000 a month and have even invited my younger one to join me.

“All one needs to make it in the business is to get a visible place, where customers can come and buy and also be able to eat-in if they are not to take it away. In the absence of that, being attached to a local clubhouse or hotel pays off. I make between N10,000 to N20,000 per night going to hotels. Though, they pay higher for my services, I make more money selling around busy restaurants,” he said.

While some operators choose to be at restaurants, hotels and vantage locations along busy streets to attract customers, Aremu has chosen a busy shopping mall around Allen Avenue, to set up his steakhouse. According to him, it is a way of marketing himself to high profile customers, who could as well hire him during their parties.

“I have three joints around different shopping malls in Lagos. The advantage of this is that, I am easily hired by big time customers to grill fish or meat at their various parties. I am paid between N50,000 to N150,000 doing this. They provide all the stocks and ingredients, while my boys and I grill and serve. This to me is an extra income, which comes with a good location.

“Apart from grilling chicken and fish, I make different sauces to go with the fish or meat. The ingredients of the sauces, which are things commonly, found in the market remains my secret. Grilling business has placed food on my table and settled my bills; it remains a money-spinning venture for me.

“Because of my location, packaging and sauce, my prices are higher than what one could get at the malls. A steak of fish costs N2,000 to N3,000, while the chicken is much higher,” he disclosed.

Do you use anything different from what others use? “No, it’s the same improvised grilled stand. Except that I use aluminum foil for packaging, instead of newspapers and of, course, being courteous further brings customers to me,” he said.

What It Takes To Excel In Grilling Business
• Always clean the fish in salted or limewater and thoroughly remove the scales, gills and gut.
• Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, but be mindful of the salt and pepper; at best apply it dry depending on the customers choice.
• Make slashes lengthwise on each fish and use a brush or your clean hands to rub the marinade mix on the fish and also inside the slashes.
• Choose a nice location that would make you visible to customers.
• Contact the fish/chicken suppler for regular supplies.
• Use fish and chicken parts you can handle.

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