How Eat, Drink Lagos changed the business of food festivals in Nigeria

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Who knew that so many people in Lagos love food? That singular question crossed the minds of the over 8,000 attendees at the 3rdedition of the Eat Drink Festival on December 27th. The founders of the blog, Eat Drink Lagos for two years have been eating their way through restaurants in Lagos, Nigeria and presenting candid reviews and ratings in an organized manner. Organizing a food festival is their way of convening food lovers in the city and presenting them with a variety of the food and drink options.

Originally, the concept of the bi-annual food festival was birthed from the idea of providing a market for culinary artisans without a physical restaurant to engage customers with their menu offerings. Over time, Eat Drink Festival chose to incorporate restaurants such as Bistro 7 with physical locations into the picture.  At this edition, there was Italian food, pasta and ham creations delivered by The Chef Benedict Experience; Kingston Kitchen and Jamski catered to palates seeking Jamaican and Caribbean food; While Mo’s Jollof and the Maggi Kitchen served steaming bowls of Nigeria’s arguable signature dish, Jollof Rice and Chicken. An abundance of barbecued ribs, wings, chicken burgers, shawarmas, and grilled snails for the brave capped off the food experience. The drink component of the festival was equally as eclectic. Cocktails, mocktails, slushies, milkshakes, popsicles flowed unhindered and an entire tent was dedicated to the art of tasting and mixing vodka and wine.

It is as impossible to name the over 50 vendors present as it is to taste all the food and drink offerings that were available at the festival grounds of Eko Atlantic City. The organizers envisaged this and encouraged attendees to have a festival strategy. The Eat Drink Festival map facilitated this. The expansive venue was all of a sudden reduced to a navigable U-formation of organized tents and well-positioned food trucks. With sufficient space in the middle, there were lots of opportunities for networking and spotting out prospective spots to visit next. Some select vendors had N1, 500 Festival Specials that gave attendees an opportunity to taste a component from their selection at an affordable price. Majority of the menu items were in the range of N500 to N2, 500.

Online, Eat Drink Festival’s third edition also garnered a lot of attention. 201, 993 people were reported by social media aggregator, Trendinalia Nigeria to have seen the hashtag, #EatDrinkFestival since its first mention. If people were not eating delicious food they were talking about it. For the first time, Nigeria’s International Commerce Hub, Eko Atlantic City, which is still under construction was packed out. All parking spots were taken and stand still traffic had spilled out to the adjoining Victoria Island roads by early evening.

When the Eat Drink Festival venue filled up to capacity, security officials locked up the venue gates to bar hundreds more festival goers from going in. With an unanticipated attendance, a varied selection of food and drinks, and a relaxed atmosphere for networking, the 3rdedition of Eat Drink Food festival surpassed expectations. One can only imagine what the 4th edition will have in store. For now, with satisfied bellies we ask, who knew that so many people in Lagos love food?

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