I have a funny (and true) Nando's story: I was with my friend Lauren many years ago, when Nando's was just starting out in the UK. We were drunk and hungry and it was late. We literally stumbled into the nearest restaurant, which was a Nando's. Lauren approached a waiter and asked him if they served nachos. 'No madam, sorry we don't', he curtly replied.
'We don't serve nachos, madam, sorry.'
(In a very loud, drunken voice:) 'Are you telling me you're called Nachos but you don't serve nachos?'
'Madam, we are called Nando's and we don't serve nachos. We serve chicken.'
If we were less drunk we would have been more embarrassed but I distinctly remember the stunned silence in the restaurant being overwhelming. We stumbled back out into the night. I think Lauren might have been vegetarian anyway.
That was my first time in a Nando's restaurant, over a decade ago; the first (and last) time I actually ate in one was about six months ago. When I ate there (my first and last time), I was given a tiny, dry piece of chicken coated in some disgusting sauce, presumably there to overwhelm the lack of taste in the chicken, and, including drinks and rice, not much change out of a twenty pound note. I had a Chinese all you can eat buffet straight afterwards.
Nando's feels like the Emperor's new clothes. From Beckham to Beyoncé (who famously spent £1,500 at an Essex branch), celebrities adore it, and ergo, the public adores it too (I used to work with someone who used to go on about Nando's almost every day. And eat one almost every day. And get very excited about it). Well, it's celebrity-endorsed and affordable (little matter the chicken it uses are bred in hanger-like sheds and never see the light of day).
The Holy Grail for Nando's fans is the High Five black card. The card, little more than a myth, entitles the user to a lifetime of free Nando's. This very exclusive card cannot be applied for in-store; no, only hot celebs are granted one (like, er, Ed Sheeran). Well, why not, they are providing the chicken chain with priceless free advertising. The only way a non-celebrity can obtain a card is by eating at every Nando's restaurant in the world. One Christopher Poole, 26, is attempting the challenge to eat at all 1031 branches (a mere drop in the ocean compared to Subway, now the most ubiquitous fast food chain in the world with over 40,000 branches, overtaking McDonald's a few years ago with only 34,000).
Previously on Barnflakes:
Pet hates #1,287: the rucksack