Two cousins from Nigeria, Chef Aisha Wahab and partner Stephen Oyelakin are opening Eatwell African Restaurant & Lounge, a new 65-seat BYOB located at 106 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, which will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. The partners are officially opening on July 30.
Eatwell African Restaurant & Lounge will incorporate African soul food and traditional Nigerian dishes with innovative twists originating from Chef Wahab’s family recipes. Born in the Northern region of Nigeria, Chef Wahab’s culinary journey began through working in her family’s restaurant and learning from her late mother, Dorcas. Chef Wahab came to the United States for vacation at the age of 28 in 1994 and ended up staying to cook and cater for multiple friends and clients in New York and North Jersey, including taking on the role as executive chef for a busy childcare center. In 2005, she opened her first African restaurant called “EatWell”, which eventually morphed into Eatwell African Cuisine. In 2015, Chef Wahab moved Eatwell African Cuisine to Irvington, New Jersey, where it still operates today.
Stephen Oyelakin emigrated from Nigeria to New York in 1996 and worked for the United Nations and a few non-government organizations in New York until 1998, when he came to Philadelphia to earn his Masters in Information Technology Leadership from LaSalle University. Since 1998, Oyelakin has worked in the Information Technology space in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is currently the Vice President of Information Security Risk Oversight at Wells Fargo Bank and holds several certifications, including Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE), Certified Identity Risk Manager, and is also a graduate of the Chief Information Security Officer University. His evolution into the restaurant business was inspired by his cousin Aisha’s expertise and passion for food.
With the encouragement of Oyelakin, Chef Wahab decided to expand her business into Philadelphia this summer. As someone who has been very involved in the region’s entertainment industry since arriving in The City of Brotherly Love in 1998, Oyelakin recognized the need for a sophisticated dine-in African restaurant in the city. Understanding Chef Wahab’s work ethic and food quality, he pushed his cousin to expand the business to serve his community, and after a brief debate last summer, Eatwell African Restaurant & Lounge was born.
“Aisha is incredibly passionate about what she does,” said Stephen Oyelakin. “Whenever I eat her jollof rice, people always ask me where I got it. Combining her expertise in food and the opportunities in Philly’s incredibly vibrant restaurant scene, our hope is that Eatwell African Restaurant & Lounge will gain recognition as one of the best restaurants to enjoy Nigerian cuisine in Philly in no time.”
The restaurant will offer snacks, appetizers, and entrées that involve traditional Nigerian recipes from Chef Wahab’s family, but also influences from Chef Wahab’s travels across the globe. The menu will be an expanded version of Chef Wahab’s current location in Irvington, New Jersey. Authentic African Snacks range from $4 to $6 and include meat pies; chicken pies; a scotch egg; chin-chin; and puff-puff. Starters range from $10 to $30, including a variety of fried chicken options; asun (grilled goat meat with spices); peppered snail; and giz-dodo (seasoned gizzards with fried plantains). Entrées range from $20 to $37 and include a variety of grilled and stewed fish dishes; asaro (yam porridge) with choice of protein; Chef Wahab’s special jollof rice; gbegiri & ewedu; and much more. Drinks will include cultural staples such as palm wine and a zobo drink, which is made with hibiscus.
The restaurant will also include a private 25-seat dining room for large parties.
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