How an Afrobeats Influencer Created a Buzzy Nigerian Restaurant

Here's how he made a splash in Times Square — and grabbed attention TikTok.

April 06, 2023

Photo by: Lagos TSQ

Lagos TSQ

To many New Yorkers, 7th Avenue and 49th street cues images of Rockefeller Center and Times Square. But step inside the door of newcomer Lagos restaurant and lounge, and you’ll be transported to the Nigerian city its named after.

“The idea of the restaurant is to bring Lagos to New York. From the aesthetic to the decor to the food to the music, you will be taken away from New York City,” explains owner John Paul Wadibia in an interview with Food Network. “Everybody knows that New York is a melting pot and Times Square is the center of this world. You can try any other cuisine but African in New York City; we wanted to put the restaurant here so all the tourists from around the world have an opportunity to enjoy Nigerian cuisine.”

Wadibia was born in Nigeria; when he moved to the U.S., he first made a name for himself in the music industry. He founded record label One Nation and signed Afrobeats musician Ayo Jay, whose songs went on to top R&B billboards song charts. “I pushed the Afrobeats music movement, and now I’m trying to do the same thing with the food and culture of Lagos,” Wadibia explains.

The Lagos you’ll find in Times Square is scintillating, unique and just plain fun. A lush greenery wall greets you when you walk in (the perfect backdrop for photos), DJs and performers play Afrobeats music, Lagos-style dancers whirl around in sparkles and food perfumes the air with spices.

@lagosnyc A night with me is always an experience #nyc #meetmeatlagos #nycrestaurants #africanrestaurant #afrobeats #timesquare #fyp #nycnightlife #nycfoodie #nigeria ♬ original sound - LagosNYC

Many of the items on the menu nod to Wadibia’s childhood in Lagos. “There’s something called the Nigerian Breakfast on the brunch menu [pictured below] and it’s plantains and eggs and red sauce that I ate growing up, but I transformed it so it looks like something out of a five-star restaurant,” Wadibia says. “The Red Stew is a popular dish back home, and I incorporated some family tricks into that dish. The lamb chops have been marinated with traditional African spices like uziza and a local traditional nutmeg for about 28 hours before they’re grilled. They’re one of our best sellers. My experiences are on the menu and when you eat them, you get the flavors and nostalgia of Lagos. So far, the guests love them.”

Photo by: Lagos TSQ

Lagos TSQ

Indeed, hundreds of positive reviews on Google laud the place for its authentic Nigerian food, hard to find in New York, not to mention good vibes for a celebration or brunch. If you don’t live in the area and don’t plan on traveling soon, never fear, you can get a great look in on TikTok, where the restaurant has gone viral.

@nyceatswithshy Toast on Sundayz at Lagos 9/10 #nyc #fyp #nycbrunch #nychookah #happyhour #blackownedbusiness #blackownedrestaurants #nyclounge #lagosnyc ♬ original sound - Shy | nyceatswithshy

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