For many years, a fleet of stalls has lined Queens Street, Alagomeji, selling all kinds of beans and sauce to the bubbling part of the Yaba Tech Hub in Lagos. However, if you tell anyone you crave “Alagomeji Beans,” most would presume you mean a meal from the famed “Beans Palace.”
Many startups that define the Nigerian tech ecosystem can trace some of their origins to Yaba, once termed the Nigerian Silicon Valley. Nowadays, startups have raised millions of dollars and bolted to the Island and out of the country.
But many of these foundational techies and others who have followed their paths turned to Beans Palace cuisine when hunger distracted them from getting work done.
Beans Palace; the origin
When the city of Lagos began to bloom as the crown colony, a young woman migrated from Togo to Yaba to share in the new Nigeria dream. She opened a small shop selling Ewa-Agoyin, semi-mashed beans but if she envisaged that it would become as big as it is today, nobody knows.
That Ewa-Agoyin joint, now called Beans Palace, has become the spot where middle management, interns and everyone in between at smaller startups lunch. “It’s a generational business,” one of the great-grandchildren of the woman who started the business years ago said.
All of her descendants, born in Nigeria, join the family business when they come of age, regardless of their fancy university degrees. “When you go to school, you come back and join the business,” one said.
How many of them make up the family? It’s not a calculation that they have made before now. “We are many,” one of the cousins offers. All the staff are cousins of a large extended family, and all of them are important cogs in the engine of the business.
On any given day, one person handles POS transactions, another washes the dishes, one mounts the pot of beans, and another serves the food. But any of them can go to the market. “Since you know how to buy things, you can go to the market,” a cousin said as she cleaned Pomo.
They used to have an Instagram page which a family member managed. But paused their social media operations when she went to school.
Over the years, the taste of the food has kept people coming back for more. The taste and texture have been consistent.
Beans Palace has quickly found favour among social media influencers like Opeyemi Famakin, a food critic. Almost weekly, bloggers and content creators visit the spot, taking clips for their followers. The family is used to the media already.
“People will come and they will say ‘This is my first time.’ They saw us on someone’s Instagram page. That is why they came,” one of the cousins said.
The ecosystem review
“The food is good. And I got hooked because the agoyin beans is different from others I have eaten,” Lanrewaju, who frequents the spot, said.
Azeez, a UI/UX designer in the area, visited Beans Palace once. He was visiting the area, and a friend had taken him. He was unsure what the hype was about, so he bought only a small portion, but that was his worst mistake ever. “I was sceptical, but I regret not buying more,” he said of the experience. “I miss the food.”
Another customer who has since left the country with his family used to frequent Beans Palace because he lived close to the spot in Yaba. “I stayed close to them, so it’s my usual weekend dose after football,” he said.
Idemudia works at Commercial Avenue in Yaba, 15 minutes away from Alagomeji. But he will make the commute to buy their food. A friend had hooked him on it while he was visiting the area, and theirs was the best around in his opinion.
Ireoluwa, who used to work at Yaba, but has moved to Dublin, Ireland, says that their beans meal is the best on the whole Lagos Mainland.
They won’t share how many pots of food they cook per day. “We can’t tell you that. That is too much,” they said.
The family is currently in the process of joining Chowdeck, the fast-growing food delivery company whose riders populate Yaba, Surulere and its environs.
It is hard for them to go by a single surname because the great-grandmother’s children who first took over the business had different surnames after they married. So they won’t offer any family name for the family business.
“Our mothers are married to different people…So just say Beans Palace.” one said
They don’t own the current location on Queens Street. It’s a rented spot, so they plan on building a permanent site. “That is why we will have a page on Instagram. So they [customers] can locate us,” one said.
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