Business | SUNBIZ

The Rotisserie Roasts COVID-19

“We’ve always been brought up on good soul food. No one could make better stew or scone than our Nana Vila,” Mrs Tuiloma said.
23 Aug 2022 16:16
The Rotisserie Roasts COVID-19
From (L) Felisha Tuiloma and (R) The Rotisserie staff members.
  • Meet Felicia and Icanus Tuiloma.
  • They are the essence of resilience, they not only took the risk of investing their savings into opening a small business in 2020 but they also survived the unknown, COVID-19 pandemic.

The couple have two children, Gracelyn, 8, and Jerome, 4.

Before becoming a full-time entrepreneur, Mrs. Tuiloma worked at a corporate marketing and media company for more than two decades. She also had a small jewelry side business.

She said: “I started off making my handmade jewelry and I would sell it at the ROC market. ”

Then later, I started selling my Fijian-designed shopping bags that were manufactured in China,” she said.

In late 2018, Mrs. Tuiloma left her corporate job to pursue other interests. As a result, the couple began discussing their future business ventures.

Mr. Tuiloma, who was also finishing his term with an international institution in New Caledonia then, had a colleague who was also returning to Fiji and wanted to establish a business as well.


He said they encouraged his friend to start a business specializing in selling rotisserie chickens since he purchased a commercial rotisserie oven from New Caledonia.

Unfortunately, the business did not work out for Mr. Tuiloma’s friend in Fiji, who approached the couple a year later for them to purchase the industrial rotisserie oven.

Mrs. Tuiloma said: “We decided to invest in the rotisserie oven even before considering opening a restaurant or starting a rotisserie business.”

Later the couple decided to put the rotisserie oven to use according to the well- crafted business plan they had on hand. Mrs. Tuiloma, who specializes in marketing, events, sales, and media, oversees the day-to-day operations of the business, while her husband oversees quality control, strategy, and


The couple opened The Rotisserie in Laucala Beach, Suva, on January 4, 2020. The Rotisserie specializes in various meat roasts, primarily chicken and pork, as well as other specialized local delicacies and catering.

Since its inception three years ago, The Rotisserie has expanded from 10 to 15 employees working shifts, with approximately 30 suppliers ranging from packaging to meats, seafood, cutlery, groceries, fruits, vegetables, machinery and more.

Mrs. Tuiloma says, the first two months of 2020 business was running smoothly, until the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Fiji on March 1, 2020.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic.


With the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, it came with constant lockdowns, curfew restrictions, and no social gatherings and events, which meant no business.

The couple had not anticipated this unexpected turn of events, especially after investing all of their savings in this new small to medium-sized business.

They came up with strategic business plans that suited the current environment then, which meant delving into online food delivery services. The Rotisserie
collaborated with a food delivery service provider, CyberFoods.

Director of Cyber Foods, Majid Shahzad, said the Rotisserie was a unique business venture.

“We would get orders from local and international customers from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada, specifically ordering food from the Rotisserie for their friends and families in Fiji.


“Sometimes, one food delivery order filled our food delivery bag. Our collaboration has been beneficial both ways because we learn from each other,” Mr.
Shahzad said.

With orders pouring in from around the country and internationally, the couple has advised other small business owners how important it is to take their
business online.

Even after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the online and offline food combination has been working smoothly, which Mrs. Tuiloma says has played a big role in boosting the business and income.

“Knowing your target audience or customer is so important, so it’s important to take in lots of feedback, developing your meals and continuously perfecting them is such a great exercise for any business.” she said.


Mrs. Tuiloma says it is imperative as business owners to be more resilient and strategically focused on the goals that have to be achieved.

With the community outbreak of COVID-19 and the limitations that came with it, the couple re-adjusted their menu and products four times between 2020 and 2021 to guarantee they were market-appropriate.

“A very important thing to note is being hands-on in the business, being on the ground managing the day-to-day happenings gives you firsthand experience of what you could improve on and what needs to change,” Mrs. Tuiloma said.

Now the couple has been steadily rebuilding and recuperating from all financial losses sustained between 2020 to 2021. They intend to diversify their business in the future.

“We go after the business. We refuse to sit and wait for it to come to us,” she said.


Meanwhile, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Mrs. Tuiloma’s father’s parents were the first to open a restaurant in the small town of Nausori, on the
outskirts of Suva City. Now she has carried on the family legacy.

According to Mrs. Tuiloma, her grandmother Nana Vila was such a superb cook and baker that she handed this quality down to all of her sons and daughters.

We’ve always been raised on good soul food and I’m proud to carry on this family tradition of cooking good soul food," Mrs. Tuiloma explained.

She describes her late Tongan-born grandmother as being very disciplined, strong-willed, and ruling the roost.


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