Moving Up in Ganta: A Proprietress’ Journey From Side-walk Soup Stand to Modern Restaurant

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The business community in Ganta, Nimba county will long be remembered and highly respected for their willingness to comply with the municipal mandate to “dress back” their business structures and also renovate them to accommodate the road infrastructure and other developments going on in their city. As part of the mandate, the Ganta City Council required that all businesses located on the main street of Ganta convert their structures to flat-tops or multi-storey structures, thereby giving the city a new look, from the ground up – literally.

It was a painstaking endeavor but, one by one, bit by bit, the resilient proprietors have made the vision their own, and are expanding their businesses as a result.

Justina’s Bar & Restaurant, one of the biggest restaurants in Ganta owned by a Liberian entrepreneur, is poised to expand like the proprietress herself never before imagined.

“I’ll be taking the building to a two-storey level, where the first floor will be a bar for wedding receptions and the second floor will be a hotel,” proprietress Justina Dahn Yormie told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview.

“I started this business by selling meat pepper soup and rice on the sidewalk,” she said. “Gradually, the business grew, until I am able to reach this far.”

The demolition exercises in Ganta affected her restaurant, as it did many of her fellow proprietors. The cost of renovation, especially building a flat-top roof, can be a very expensive endeavor. Like her neighbors, Justina now needs financial assistance to reach her target, as the demolition exercise set her back financially.

But see what she has done with the restaurant: completely tiled floor, with a glass façade on the front and modern furniture, a decent upgrade from the regular plastic tables and chairs that used to be there. The restaurant is spacious enough to accomodate 180 persons and has 20 employees that run on three shifts.

The restaurant is a 24-hour operation in a border-connected city that hardly sleeps.

The building had a regulation look after demolition exercises compelled structures in the surrounding area to be transformed to flat tops or one storey buildings.

The restaurant part of the building was among other business centers that were demolished during the construction of the Gbarnga – Ganta – Guinea border road, which was dedicated in March this year.

Madam Yormie further told the Daily Observer that, despite the demolition, her business center is still moving strong and she hopes to continue modernizing it.

She said the only way for a business to be successful is for the owners to be very serious and focused on goods and services. “Once you are able to manage small money,” she said, “you will also be able to manage bigger amounts.”

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