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TRU grad opens Kamloops's first West African restaurant

Oluwatobi Akinwumi has opened Kamloops's first West African restaurant, Tobilicious.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Oluwatobi Akinwumi
December 13, 2020 - 12:00 PM

A Thompson Rivers University grad has turned an idea into a tasty reality by opening Kamloops's first West African restaurant.

Nigerian Oluwatobi Akinwumi is the woman behind Tobilicious, which began as an idea in class when she was completing her Masters in Business Administration.  

"When I came here, it took me a while to settle in," said Akinwumi, 25.  "There were times I just wanted to go eat out, and I realized there were no African restaurants." 

It got her thinking, and when she was asked to come up with a business idea in school, she decided she would pitch a West African restaurant to her class.

"I noticed a lot of international students went for my idea, they were excited about it," she said. "They said when they got to Kamloops, they had a similar experience, where they couldn't get an African meal anywhere."

Prompted by the positive feedback, when an opportunity came along, Akinwumi went for it.

Left, spicy grilled goat called Asun. Right, turkey with fried rice and Jollof rice.
Left, spicy grilled goat called Asun. Right, turkey with fried rice and Jollof rice.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Oluwatobi Akinwumi

She finished her degree and secured the restaurant location in October. Tobilicious started taking orders for pick-up, and are now available on Skip the Dishes and Doordash for delivery.

They serve West African lunch and dinner items, along with pastries and drinks.

"Jollof rice is an African rice, different countries in Africa cook it differently, but I cook it the Nigerian way," she said. "It's mixed with pepper sauce, so it's a little bit spicy, but sometimes we make it mild."

Left, pepper soup with catfish. Right, meat pies with ground beef and potatoes.
Left, pepper soup with catfish. Right, meat pies with ground beef and potatoes.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Oluwatobi Akinwumi

In the evening they serve a variety of soups, and the main special is pepper soup, a spicy dish with either goat meat or catfish.

Akinwumi said they serve it typically in the evening following what her mother always told her, that you don't want to be sweating early in the day.

"It's good in the evening, when everybody's a bit chilled," she said. 

They also have assorted meat and vegetable stews and other West African specialties like Gizz-Dodo, which is fried gizzard with plantains (similar to bananas but more savoury) and pepper sauce. 

Their hand-held pies are stuffed with ground beef, potatoes and spices, and the dough is made from scratch in-house.

As a new business owner opening amid the pandemic, Akinwumi is grateful for her boyfriend and friends helping her make Tobilicious a reality. 

Right, meat kabob with pepper sauce. Right, Akinwumi's boyfriend grills goat meat for the Asun dish.
Right, meat kabob with pepper sauce. Right, Akinwumi's boyfriend grills goat meat for the Asun dish.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Oluwatobi Akinwumi

"It's sad that we opening in this pandemic, but overall it's been good," she said. "At first it was overwhelming, but now I think I've found a way around it."

She said it took a lot to turn something that was just an idea into a full-on business, but she's hopeful for the future.

Right now, with the pandemic limiting in-house dining and their space being small, Tobilicious is mostly take-out. However, next year Akinwumi hopes to expand in a new location for a dine-in restaurant.  

To order from Tobilicious, download the Skip the Dishes or Doordash app. Or you can call (250) 879-1231 to pick up from their location at 299 Victoria Street West. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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