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Toasties Celebrates 7 Years of Culinary Innovation with Founder Eka Obaigbena

From a small hidden outlet, Toasties has grown to sell 200 sandwiches daily, with five outlets across Lagos, offering not only sandwiches but also a variety of salads and fresh juices.

Toasties, the renowned Lagos-based eatery, is marking its 7th anniversary with a remarkable journey of growth and innovation. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the Founder and CEO, Eka Obaigbena, who shared insights into the restaurant’s evolution and its commitment to serving up delectable delights.

From humble beginnings, Toasties has become a household name, boasting five outlets across Lagos, with its headquarters situated on Awolowo Road in the heart of Ikoyi. The restaurant’s primary focus is centred around toasted sandwiches, fresh salads, invigorating fresh juices, and an array of other culinary delights.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS reflecting on the inception of Toasties, Eka Obaigbena, Toasties Founder and CEO said, “It’s definitely been a journey. We started in a very small outlet that was kind of hidden away. We were trying to create a food truck concept, so we had a little window, and customers would come up to the window to place an order. So on September 26th, 2016, we opened our window and sold a whopping one sandwich to our landlord, and since then, it’s been a journey to try and build the brand and bring awareness, and we plan to continue to grow.”

Over the years, Toasties has expanded its menu, offering a variety of mouthwatering options. “Today we sell 200 sandwiches in a day, but that’s not accounting for our other menu items like salads and fresh juices,” Obaigbena revealed. Interestingly, their bestseller isn’t a Toastie but their chicken avocado salad. “That’s because we have many toasties; we have 12 toasties, but we have only about 5 salads on our menu,” she added.

In emphasising the expansion of the restaurant, Obaigbena pointed out that they achieved their goal last December by increasing the number of outlets from two to five, with a strategic focus on some smaller and more manageable locations. “The number one lesson I’ve learned is about training your staff and your team and making sure that you have processes for consistency. If you’re not consistent with your product, with the measurements, you might be losing money and not even realise it.”

One of Toasties’ unique offerings is its fusion of local and international flavours. Obaigbena explained, “The shaki sandwich is our first-ever toastie. It was the sandwich that started Toasties. Back then, I had a food blog and would experiment with different African and Western cuisines, trying to fuse things together. It was called biscuitboneblog, hence the biscuit bone on our packaging. So, the shaki toastie is something we created because we wanted to see a way we can make something that is popular and interesting in Nigeria and make it into a sandwich. We try to make sandwiches that appeal to the local market; we have an asun sandwich and a ram sandwich, and we try to use local ingredients as much as possible.”

As for their top-selling sandwich, Obaigbena shared, “The prawn pesto is our number one selling sandwich. We created that in our test kitchen as soon as we could. A bit of backstory here, when we first started, we had to change outlets because there was an issue with that first outlet. In the outlet we moved to, we didn’t see a single day of electricity because we were told that for them to connect our store we would need to erect a pole to the power grid and we couldn’t afford that at the time. So we would buy ice every day, and that’s how we would store the food. So when we were finally able to have seafood, that was the first thing we did when we moved to our head office. We added salads and we added this prawn and pesto sandwich, and it was inspired by us wanting to make sure we were using ingredients we already had in the store instead of adding new ingredients to the menu.”

Toasties’ 7th anniversary is not only a celebration of culinary success but also a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Eka Obaigbena and her dedication to delivering delicious and innovative dining experiences to Lagosians.

Kiki Garba

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