POPULAR socialite, Mike Eze-Nwalie Nwogu, popularly known as Pretty Mike, 30, is the co-owner of Club Uno, formerly Q Club on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
The young entrepreneur who runs the business with his older brother, Frank ‘Don Nero’ Nwogu, had a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, where he told us all about the business, how he started, how they have kept it running over years and more.
I go by the name, Pretty Mike, that’s what everyone calls me. When you hear the name, Pretty Mike you’ll be wondering is he a fine boy? But it’s a name I’ve had since I was 11. It really has nothing to do with my looks. It’s a name the whole family call me. I actually got that name in the US. I spent most of my life in Houston, Texas, United States of America. I did my middle school, high school and college in the US. I came back in 2007/2008 after 17 years and I started this club business.
How did you venture into this business?
I used to be known in college to stage the craziest parties. I never thought or planned to pick it as a business. I used to have the craziest parties with a lot of women around and it was just fun for me.
When I came back, my brother had already started Q Club, that’s what it was called then. I joined him and took it to a different level. We’ve renovated three times, changed the name from Q Club to Club Uno.
So, what prompted the change of name from Q Club to Club Uno?
One thing about the business is that you always have to give people new stuff. There’s hardly any club in Nigeria that has been on one name for four years, neither do I know any club that has been operational for five years unbroken. They always have one issue or the other and they shut down. So for us, it was just something with a new flavor.
Q Club used to be up and downstairs then we renovated it and made it a downstairs only.
There were series of other reasons that prompted it. We shut down for four months and re-opened after a massive renovation that cost a lot of money.
You said your brother started Q Club and you joined him, is it a partnership thing?
He’s a member of my family, so I don’t look at it as a partnership. We have our distinct roles. I am the face of the club and business. I am the more outspoken one. He’s always in the background giving me all the support that I need, more like my backbone. I call him my boss, my father. I have many names for him. Everybody knows Pretty Mike is the boss, but there’s a bigger boss. He’s older than me. He is also upright in nature. He is not the flamboyant type.
What are the pains and gains of the business?
My parents always talk to me about how I dumped my degree. I studied Computer Engineering and they keep hammering on it. My parents live in the US and anytime they call, the perception is you guys are there running ashewo house. I am always trying to make it look good. Like no, mom, it’s a lounge. Aside that, a whole lot of gossip, people see me as controversial. I’ve had a bunch of scandals.
In terms of women there’s this belief that Pretty Mike has so many girlfriends. My birthday was October 23, it’s like everyone was waiting because for my last birthday, I had close to 49 cakes and Linda Ikeji posted it. I had a lot of happy birthday messages. Happy birthday my husband, happy birthday darling and all that.
I had a special place where I placed all the cakes. The picture leaked and went viral. The same thing happened the year before and with the social media, there are so many girls wishing you happy birthday and everybody has different names they call you. Sometimes, the ladies know each other and that’s how rumour begins. But that’s not the real me, that’s the show business me. People don’t understand that there’s this show business front I like to create. That also gives me the buzz and attention and hopefully, success of the business. All of these are different from the real me. I am actually calm but because of the business, I have to come out, speak out, so I can create the buzz, awareness and other things that surround it.
As for the gains, financial wise, it has been very okay, and everybody is in business to make some money. In this business, there is a lot of freedom. Though I hardly have time because there is always so much to be done to get ready for every club night.
You talked about the scandal and the many girlfriends rumour, how do you deal with them?
Over the years, I have developed a thick skin, and I just attribute it all to show business. People are allowed to talk, but sometimes it gets really to the extreme and it’s really painful when it gets to your loved ones and family. I always tell people around me that it’s a phase that will pass away. I’ve seen people that have a whole lot of scandals and they’re not dead.
What are the challenges of running a club?
They are many. It’s not easy. A lot of people are always like Pretty Mike, I want to be like you because all they see is money, cars, women, drinks and they assume it is fun. But for me, it is more challenging than that. Every day I sleep at 7 in the morning and by 11 a.m, I am up. I don’t sleep past 11 a.m everyday. The running of the club starts during the day, making sure your equipment are right, supply of drinks are prompt and accurate, and the club is in good shape.
What makes Club Uno stand out from others?
Not to brag, currently in Lagos, we are the oldest club in the same location, same owner and management. We’ve been here since 2007, no other club has done that in Lagos. All the clubs we started with have either shut down or the owners are out of business.
What’s your unique selling point?
At a point, people used to declare me the person or club that sold the most bottles of champagne. I have ways of bringing people together and creating a loud buzz. I’m also known for my women. I mean the ones that visit the club.
I have many decent, not so clean, willing to do whatever it takes ladies around me. People believe once they come to my club, they will be satisfied, depending on what they are looking for. For those looking for one night stand, I’m sure they will find it. For those looking for long term relationships, they will also find it, and those looking for wife materials, also will find it.
In your club?
Yes. I personally have a record of 23 weddings of people that met here. About 11 people proposed to their wives here in my club. The ones that met their wives here are happily married.
How do you cope with women because in your line of business, you may not avoid them, so how do you handle them?
I try to bring them close. I also set a standard. I call them my sisters and daughters and that’s how I treat them, so as not to drive them away. I also assist them with things they need but I make sure I let them know it won’t go pass that. In return, they support me in creating buzz for the club.
Are you in a relationship?
Most people would probably say no, but I am in a serious relationship.
I’ll be walking down the aisle next year.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I always believe in making a strong plan for the year. We plan on renovating next year, and we are also planning to move to the Island next year. The property has been purchased and there is serious construction going on. We are looking forward to that.
Will the club be relocating there, or it would be a branch?
This place would still be here. It is home to a lot of people. A lot of people grew up here, even some of our customers that have moved to the Island still come back here. Moving to the Island is just a way of pleasing our customers that have been pleading with us to move to the Island.
What do you do differently that makes your customers keep coming back?
Humility to customers is key. I don’t believe in downgrading anybody, even if you are buying a bottle of water, bottle of soft drink or bottle of champagne – all customers are on the same level and they deserve my respect. That’s my selling point.
You have been in the business since 2007, where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, the Club Uno would have definitely changed. Pretty Mike would still be Pretty Mike but I would be diversifying. My dad has been calling for me to join the family business, importation of electronic parts and hardware.
Presently, aside the club business, what do you do?
I am also into transportation of textile. I have someone that helps with that. I also intend to go into property business, buying and selling. The club doesn’t really give me room to do other things.