At the height of the pandemic in March 2020, Bola Alaketu was among the first wave of people to contract the COVID-19 virus–nearly turned fatal for the wife and mother of three. After narrowly recovering from the virus, Alaketu made the tough decision to shutter the catering business she operated since 2003. The devastation kept piling on for Alaketu when she was then diagnosed with cancer in 2021. She made it through her cancer diagnosis, but couldn’t help but mourn the loss of what she considered part of her family’s legacy.
“I grew up seeing my mother cooking and I grew up seeing my grandmother cooking. Cooking, I would say, is in my family lineage,” says Alaketu. “When you love to do something and you are in the position where you can’t do it, it’s like letting go of your love somehow. I love being in the kitchen, so when I couldn’t do it anymore, it put me in a depression.”
Alaketu recalls having a vivid dream in November 2022 that changed the trajectory of her life. In the dream, she was asked “Why are you not selling rice?” a question that reinvigorated her passion for cooking. Shortly after the dream, Alaketu was able to acquire a restaurant space, which she calls her “miracle kitchen.” By January 2023, Alaketu opened Olobe’s Kitchen, a family-owned and operated establishment bringing traditional Nigerian cuisine to Lavon, Texas, a suburban neighborhood in Dallas.
“Olobe,” Alaketu explains, means “the best cook” in her native Yoruba, a language spoken in Nigeria. Many of the locals who come into Olobe’s Kitchen have little to no experience eating Nigerian food, and Alaketu shares her delight in educating newcomers on how to eat many of the dishes in an “authentic” way.
“I love the part of explaining and showing them how to eat. Most of our food, like fufu and amala, we eat with our bare hands. We explain to customers that if you want to eat it the authentic way, you have to use your hands,” Alaketu explains. “It’s an experience for me and for them also, and I’m loving it. The fact that we keep having return customers—that’s even proof to me that yes, we are doing something amazing.”
When it came to deciding on a POS system for her new restaurant, Alaketu relied on recommendations from neighboring business owners who told her about Clover. With her Clover Station Duo system, Alaketu is able to handle customer transactions with ease. And with the DAVO sales tax application integrated into her Clover POS system, Alaketu can keep track of business taxes with the automated sales tax process. Thanks to the Payroll by Gusto application, Alaketu manages her payroll with no problem.
“I don’t even know whether we could have done it in this day and age if we didn’t have Clover,” she says.
With a renewed lease on life, Alaketu doesn’t plan on slowing down. She aspires to one day have a chain of Olobe’s Kitchens, a dream she gave up on before finding her miracle kitchen.
“It’s absolutely a miracle. I lost hope in cooking. I never thought I would get such energy. After three major surgeries within seven months, I never thought I could do this anymore. And I didn’t even have the finances to do it,” she says. “Since January 2023, this little business has been footing its own bill. Week after week, month after month–and we’re still going.”
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