Nigerian restaurant owner brings African culture to downtown Lansing

Taiwo Adeleye has been selling foods that represent his cultural heritage for six months at various farmers markets and through the Allen Neighborhood Center.

And on Friday, he’s opening Tatse – and Alobosa night – as a stand-alone restaurant to serve his favorites and give football fans a place to gather.

“I watch the English Premier League and when I walk around I find it difficult for a bar to understand that there are other people who don’t just want to watch American football but the English Premier League or the Champions League. “, did he declare.

The chef and football fan has therefore decided to create a space where he and other Africans, as well as some Americans, can watch matches while eating Adeleye’s Nigerian dishes with American influences.

Siso Dhladhla, owner of LanArtBus, a creative design agency, said such a place would provide a gathering space for members of the African community and perhaps help others in the region realize the magnitude of the community. Even Dhladhla, a first-generation American with Zimbabwean and South African roots, said he didn’t remember many members of the community outside of his friends and students he had worked with in the past.

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He said football can generate a connection between people when they watch matches at Tatse.

“We need a bit more football at Lansing, especially after you know you don’t have (Lansing) United around anymore,” he said.

Taiwo Adeleye talks about the larger size of his kitchen at the new location of his African restaurant Tatse on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in downtown Lansing.

Matt Jones, a friend of Adelye’s and kitchen and facilities manager at the Allen Neighborhood Center, suggested Adeleye move his food business to the empty downtown dining space.

“People wanted more when they talked to him at the farmer’s market,” Jones said. “It really made him think, ‘OK, I need to start switching equipment a little faster, from renting kitchens by the hour to my own location.'”

Tatse, he said, was three times busier than other food tenants at the ANC incubator kitchen and once sold $600 worth of food at a farmers market in three hours. Income from farmers’ markets and other sources gave Adeleye the financing he needed to lease the restaurant for $1,000 a month.

Adeleye visited potential locations around the city, some without kitchens that would have cost $100,000 to add.

Instead, he chose a space that was empty after For Crêpe Sake moved to East Lansing in May 2021. The owners originally closed the cafe in April 2020.

Taiwo Adeleye, owner of Tatse, pictured Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in downtown Lansing.

Tatse and Alobosa’s decor was handpicked by Adeleye with textiles on the tables, artwork and other items that remind her of Africa.

He placed pictures of his grandmothers above the food for people to see. His maternal grandmother taught him to cook and his paternal grandmother developed in him a taste for education.

“Someone was joking that I put them where I serve food so they could tell me, ‘That’s too much,'” he said.

The restaurant becomes the African bar Alobosa at 8 p.m. The name roughly translates to onion in Nigerian, Adeleye said (Albasa is the Hausa word).

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African artwork inside Tatse's new location pictured Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in downtown Lansing.  Taiwo Adeleye has moved his African restaurant Tatse downtown after debuting at the Allen Neighborhood Center last summer.

The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Friday at 221 S. Washington Square. Tatse closes at 7 p.m. for staff to move to Alobosa and reopens at 8 p.m. The nightlife kicks off on Friday with the All Black Afrobeat party; they ask people to wear black.

Tatse and Alobosa do not have liquor licenses, however, the Michigan Dance & Movement Collective, run by Adeleye, is licensed and will handle the liquor for three months. According to State Liquor Control BoardMDMC has a special active 24-hour beer, wine and spirits license for the location every Friday and Saturday in February and every Saturday in March and April.

Regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Photos of Taiwo Adeleye's grandmothers hang for inspiration at the new location of his African restaurant Tatse on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in downtown Lansing.

“Our goal is to expose and make Africans feel at home,” he said.

Adeleye’s plans include a weekly evening for African-style dining. ANC’s delivery and delivery model did not allow customers to enjoy the atmosphere surrounding African food, Adeleye said, so from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Tatse will become “For Culture”, where food is African and people eat with bread and their hands.

Down the road, Adeleye hopes to separate Tatse into its own restaurant modeled after Chipotle and Qdoba and eventually add an American influence in cultural dishes. Alobosa would stand alone as a fully operational bar.

For now, it’s split down the line to offer restaurant seating on one side, a bar on the other.

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Contact journalist Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344Where knurse@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.


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