Winnipeg welcomes new African restaurants

The Nigerian population in Winnipeg grows very quickly, so new restaurants with African dishes are opening in the city.

Elizabeth Lawal, the owner of Akin's African Restaurant and Bar on Sargent, is very glad that the Nigerian population almost doubled in the city. Now, the woman is cooking wonderful dishes and gathering her native people together.

"The city needs it," the woman says. "That is the joy I have — to see something that is not in the city I created."

Lawal has been a successful businessman since 1986. She owns a shop, salon and some real estate. The woman had long thought about opening an African restaurant but understood that it would be difficult and a lot of free time is needed.

In Winnipeg, there were already places with East African cuisine, but there was no West African cuisine anywhere.

"I don't think I did it to make an income — I did it because the city needs it," she said.

There is also Victor Alozie who owns 2 African restaurants in Winnipeg. The man's motto is to locate what is not there, why it's not there and how to fill the vacuum.

"I decided it was important, necessary, to establish a Nigerian restaurant so Nigerians here in Winnipeg can feel at home," the man explained.

At first Alozie was not going to open 2 restaurants at once, but then he realized that he could make them work well. In addition to traditional African dishes such as akara, spiced fritters made with bean flour and more, it is possible to find burgers and bannock in his restaurants.

Most places with African food have delivery and this service is very popular now.

Elizabeth Lawal also added that at home she cooks almost only South African dishes and many friends who have ever tried her food were delighted. The woman said that the bestselling dish in her restaurant is pounded yam. Jollof rice is the second on the list.

Despite the huge amount of work, the woman says that now she is very happy.

"All the West Africans just bombard us with demand," she said. "It's not a regret we open, but it's too much work for one person. Sometimes I ask God: why you make me crazy like this?" she said. "Right now, I don't really need to open the restaurant to live, but I just like to take challenges in my life." 

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