Published On  Nov 13,  2011






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In just another addition to the growing metropolitan life of the capital city, Suba, an exotic bar with a combination of splendid music and popular drinks, has opened its door only recently. With its grabbing interior design and professional staff, it is a place worth visiting writes CANDACE ABATE, SPECIAL TO FORTUNE.

SUBA: Classy, Modern with Hint of Hip





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 Africa.

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 parking.

“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 Fortune.

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 received.

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, and dancehall.

“(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 women.

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 Dawit.

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 told Fortune.

Suba is open from 6pm to 2am from Sunday to Wednesday and from 6pm to 3:30am or later the rest of the week.




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