Lola Edobor is an Amsterdam-born restaurateur, with Dutch and Nigerian roots. She is the owner of Pamela, a queer and BIPOC safe space in the city center with plenty of high quality drinks, music and food to satisfy your needs. She loves the nightlife and the feeling of freedom it gives her and it is her passion to share this with the community that comes through Pamela's doors. For us, Black Friday isn't about discounts and sales, it's all about showcasing the Black-owned businesses that hold the same values and beliefs as us.

How long have you been open for?
We opened on January the 10th, 2020, just a couple of months before the Netherlands went into lockdown. The first two months were very slow, because we didn’t want to promote Pamela. We didn’t want her to reach a crowd she wasn’t meant for. Instead, we wanted the bar to become known in our community through word of mouth. The third month went well, but then we had to close due to Corona. It really sucks because our right to governmental support was based on these first months. So no support from there.

Why did you want to open the bar?
I love nightlife. Not every part of it of course, but the clubs and parties where there is sexual freedom and where it is a safe place for everyone. Unfortunately, the bars in Amsterdam are not made for people like us: they’re filled with white cis people who will stare at you when you’re different. People assume that the queer community likes the gay bars that you see in Reguliersdwarsstraat. That is not the case: these bars are certainly not made for everyone. So, there was and still is a big gap to fill. So big that I hope someone opens a Queerbar just for straight people.

What is the concept for your restaurant?
Pamela is a colourful hangout for and by the queer community. If you do not belong to this community, you are a guest. She is all about the vibes and loves some quality cocktails with it. The bar food is really good and all vegan/vegetarian because she does not only like all kinds of people but also all kinds of animals.

What early food memories do you have?
My food memories are not that spectacular: my mom didn’t like to cook and didn’t eat meat. My mom was her time ahead: the things that people just starting to see now. Was already a topic for my mom back in the days. I think she would have liked to live in this day and age where you can cook nice vegetarian food in a minute with more choice then the ‘Griekse Rondo’ from the Albert Heijn.
What is the team like at your bar, how do you know each other?
I know Carlos Valdes from clubbing. When I told him my idea to open a queer bar, he was excited and told me that he would like to be involved. Later I got introduced to Samuel King, because it was too much work to do everything by myself. I needed a strong partner, and Samuel and I had an instant connection. Samuel, Carlos and I are a good team. We all have our unique talents. I want to give an extra shout out to or chef Marieke who joint us from the very beginning without knowing if this was going to be a success. We selected the ‘Pam’ team by holding a lot of job interviews. We really wanted a representation of the community. Everyone who works with us has their own talent and personality and has made Pam who she is today.

What areas of hospitality do you feel unrepresented/underrepresented in?
Honestly, I feel unrepresented in almost all areas of hospitality. I consider this a big problem. In Amsterdam it is almost impossible to open a bar/restaurant/club if you’re not a big player in the hospitality world. The prices are extremely high and the locations with a catering license are rare.
It’s the same as with the housing market in Amsterdam. As a result, there is little diversity in hospitality. Due to the high rent prices, people often go for the safe option and the concept will be catered to the majority of the people.

What are you doing to push representation through Pamela?
Next to our team who represent everything outside of the norm, we also want to collaborate with organisations that represent the queer and BIPOC community. We try to program as diverse as possible. Our social media is a nice platform to preach what we stand for, and we have a door full of stickers that represent our views on society. Also, we have a door policy that creates a different audience and gives priority to the queer and BIPOC community.

What does the future look like for Pamela?
If we survive the pandemic, we want to give back more to our community. We want to be more than a bar. We are a queer and BIPOC safe place and we are happy to have more collaborations. So, if you read this and have a good idea for this community that needs a safe space, please contact us. We want to connect and act as a platform. In the end we want to spread our wings to different locations, like hosting stages on festivals to spread the Pam vibe. Also, keep your eyes out for the new Pam merch that is coming up!
Photography by Dia