It is not surprising that a vibrant nightlife contributes to a city’s global identity, its local economy, and its allure for international visitors. The quality of a city’s nightlife strongly correlates not only with the number of its international visitors, but also with the amount of foreign direct investment the city receives. Nightlife is an even stronger factor in a city’s attractiveness to international visitors than its culinary scene.
The nightlife industry was one that was hard hit and came on its knees with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. It was one of the industries that were first to shut down to moderate the spread of the virus; and most probably the last one to open up and go back to normal when restrictions eased up. With social interaction as one of the strongest pillars of its success, this scenario of physical distancing posed an extra challenge in its struggle for a comeback.
While a lot of places sadly have had to permanently shut their doors due to operational costs, with time as the only thing that can tell if we will ever still get to see or visit those places again, there are still some establishments that chose to face this pandemic head-on.
As it is often said: ‘businesses are like people and those who are quick to adapt to situations will thrive’. While it is still a long way to get back to how the nightlife industry was performing, it is inspiring to see that more establishments are becoming more creative and pushing the boundaries of what was typically expected from the usual operations.
Kojo Aidoo is the General Manager of Accra’s private members club, Front Back Accra; and has for the last six years kept Front Back Accra very vibrant and positioned as a spot of choice in the nation’s capital. He is also the Founder of Bartenders Guild Ghana, an association of professional bartenders and mixologists in Ghana.
I caught up with Kojo in Osu a week ago just before he flew out of the country, for a conversation on the current state of Ghana’s nightlife industry and how his outfit – Front Back Accra, is dealing with the post pandemic challenges as a business which places the customer at the centre of its operations.
On several occasions, I have heard many ravers describe Front Bank Accra as one of the best spots in Accra with amazing cocktails. The music, according to them, is always good, with the right playlists by the disc jockeys and the vibe is awesomely great, coupled with a clean environment and fascinating décor.
According to Kojo, they have a simple concept which focuses on music, food and arts from Africa and its diaspora. “The space is lovingly made by over 40 artisans and partnerships, from the art works on the walls to the furniture and clothing. We display the very best of what is produced across the African continent, and all our content is for sale or available on bespoke order,” he added.
Apart from Front Back being a members’ club, it has served as a venue for several important events ranging from talk shows, book readings, music launches and listening sessions, movie premieres, photoshoots for brands like Vogue Magazine and Gucci. It has also hosted a lot of international superstars.
Explaining the benefits of being a member, Kojo explained that Front Back members are allowed to come in with three to five guests based on their type of membership, in addition to free access to their concierge service. They also enjoy discounts from their partner hotels including Olma Suites, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra, and Movenpick Ambassador Hotel.
“We also have partner companies in the area of communications which give discounts to our members for services they offer to them as well as shopping at pop–ups and partners. We also have a reciprocal members’ club outside Ghana, where our members get free access. This includes the Library in London and Liberal Club,” he added.
With the services provided at Front Back, Kojo indicated that they have a team of excellent chefs, sommeliers and mixologists who have been assembled to design an outstanding array of menus, cocktail and wine lists for members and their guests to choose from. There is a wide range of drinks, including spirits, champagnes, wine, beer, soft and hot drinks.
On the prospects and future of the business, Kojo revealed that they are focussed on bridging the gap and taking their business beyond the shores of Ghana. “We are looking at consolidating our gains and strengthening our position in the market. We will want to take Front Back globally, but we are starting from Africa,” he added.