Distinctive and visually striking as soon as you
step in, Suba might just take your breath away.
Situated on the ground floor of a relatively new
building diagonal from Ibex Hotel on Ethio-China
Avenue, is a small illuminated, yet hard to decipher
sign that reads Suba.
The people behind this bar are Dereje Haile Giorgis,
owner of a bar called Pure, a very popular Ethiopian
hangout in Washington, DC, and Samuel Adinew,
first-time bar owner. Suba is named after a forest
about 40km away from Addis Abeba that is home to
incredible flora and fauna and is the oldest park in
Dereje and Samuel wanted an Ethiopian name that
complemented the interior design of Suba. As far as
the design is concerned, Dereje was mostly
responsible, with contributions from both Samuel and
Dawit Abraham, manager of the bar.
Offering unique aspects, technologies, and design
ideas, Suba is undeniably incomparable to any bar,
lounge, or club in Addis Abeba. Grabbing your
attention before you even walk in, the entrance of
Suba is lined with carpet and a couple of bouncers
dressed in crisp suits and what appears to resemble
police badges. Once the bouncers have opened the
immense black door, an obstacle with some decorative
branches forces you to turn right, towards the
stairs leading to the VIP section and a small bar,
or left, to the rest of the lounge.
There is a bar set up all along the left side of the
lounge and another bar in the far right corner. The
rest of the space consists of tall tables with
stools and fancy white, black, and cream couches
around glass tables.
Various music videos, graphics, and more, depending
on the day, are projected onto the entire top half
of the wall for everyone to see. The rest of the
walls at Suba, downstairs and upstairs, consist of a
makeshift forest. The walls are covered with some
sort of transparent screen that depicts tree
branches on a backdrop that changes colours every
few minutes. Along with the walls, every so often,
the colossal chandelier, the lights on the stairway,
and virtually the entire bar change colours. As far
as the VIP section is concerned, it’s a little less
than half of the size of the downstairs with a small
bar on the far right. The walls and couches are
consistent with the ones downstairs and the
projected videos are clearly visible.
The motivation to open a lounge came from the lack
of up-scale, relaxing, and attractive places to go
to at night, Dereje and Samuel claim. They wanted to
open a place that offered a unique setting, ample
entertainment, a relaxing atmosphere, and plenty of
“Even if you come alone, you do not feel bored or
lonely,” explains Dawit. Suba is the first lounge
Dereje and Samuel have ever opened in Ethiopia, and,
similarly, most of the employees at Suba have never
worked at a bar or lounge before. In fact, most of
the employees are recent college graduates.
“We are working and learning together,” Dawit told
Fortunately, the staff is professional, very
friendly, and efficient.
When Suba first opened, the plan was for it to be a
non-smoking lounge, much like many western bars and
lounges, but, “we have not advanced to that level
yet,” Dawit told Fortune, expanding on the lack of
non-smoking bars in Ethiopia. It affected the
business and proved to be cost ineffective, not to
mention the numerous customer complaints they
Speaking to a couple of customers, Fortune found out
that what resonated most with people was the music.
One customer absolutely loved the house and techno
music when he went on a Wednesday, he said. Another
customer who went for the first time on a Tuesday,
appreciated the atmosphere and setting of Suba but
could not stand the choice of music, which he
described as a random mix of R&B, Ethiopian music,
“(It is) the worst music I have come across in
Addis,” said Mikhael.
Elias Abamilki, a recent college graduate, is also a
first time customer.
“(It has) the best lounge music in Addis on
Wednesdays,” he told Fortune. “Suba could be in any
city in the world. Although there is nothing
Ethiopian or original about it, it is the closest
someone has come to creating a replica of a lounge
from the West.”
Although the lounge does not yet offer a menu, Suba
serves burgers, club sandwiches, and tibs at prices
ranging from 50 to 60 Br plus 15pc value-added tax (VAT)and
10pc service charge. The burgers and tibs were very
decent and the plates they were served on were
simple and attractive.
Suba’s most popular drinks are Black Label and
Vodka, which go for 60Br a shot. Mixed drinks,
especially Kamikaze shots are very popular among
Suba’s busiest days are from Thursdays to Saturdays.
The lounge is looking for talent and considering
having a live band perform on Sundays, according to
Although the lounge has been open for almost a
month, no promoting or advertising was done before
or after its opening, says Dawit.
“The lounge speaks and advertises for itself,” Dawit
Suba is open from 6pm to 2am from Sunday to
Wednesday and from 6pm to 3:30am or later the rest
of the week.