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Nando Not 2010/06/12

Posted by Dave in Reviews, Whinge.
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[Picture of Menu leaflet from Nando's]We will never try to eat at Nando’s ever again because of what happened today.

It all started when Ruthie suggested that we drive all the way to Pollok to the Nando’s at Silverburn to get a half chicken takeaway for dinner.

When we arrived at the car park and found a space in which to park, DP was fast asleep in his booster seat.  Oli was shattered too, so Ruthie suggested that I pop in by myself.

I don’t know Nando’s, so I just went in and asked where it was.  A nice lady pointed me in the right direction.  I arrived at an unmanned desk, and began waiting.  Folk were passing me, and going on in.  I wasn’t sure what to do.

OK.  The family is in the car, time was getting on, it was busy in Silverburn, so I had to do something.  I saw the container of menu leaflets and slid one out, looking for clues.  There is a method — you decide how hot you want things, select a meal then place your order with your table number, pay up and wait.

Two groups of 4 people asked me if they could go in!

It’s not very clear to a lot of people.  When I found out they were looking to sit in, I suggested that they go ahead so’s they could order with their table number, and not to worry about me as I was waiting for take-away.

The menu leaflet had no mention of  take-away.  So after 8 long minutes, I went in and found a waitress to ask about what to do.

“Hi, I don’t want to get a table, and that’s all your leaflet has — do you do take-away?”

“Yes, we do, have you called to collect?”

“Oh, I didn’t know you could do that”

“Yes, do you want a card with the number on it?”

“No, I’m here now, what do I do?”

“Well, here’s the take-away menu, pick what you want and just pop over to the counter right at the back near the kitchens”

“Aha, right, well – thanks very much, sorry I don’t know the ins-and-outs”

“O, that’s alright”

I went all the way inside and up to the counter.

“Is this where I order takeaway?” I asked the girl behind the till.

“Yes, but you have to wait in the queue”, she said waving her hand at the queue of people I had allowed to go ahead of me.

I recognised some of them as being sit in diners.

“No, no, you see I just want take-away” I said

“Yes, if you could just join the queue”

“But I know that they’re diners at tables, I’m just take-away…”

“It doesn’t matter; there’s just one queue” She moved away dismissively.

So I walk back to the end of the snaking queue.  It moved slowly. I looked at the time — heaven’s I’d been away 20 minutes already!

A waitress was walking by, so I stopped her.

“Excuse me, but I just want to place a take-away order, it’s just half-a-chicken,  then nip out to get some stuff at Tesco until it’s ready — can I get the take-away phone number please?  The girl I spoke to earlier had business cards near the front entrance…”

“Yes, no problem, I’ll be a jiffy” — and she turned round and went to fetch me the card. She was back in a few seconds.

“There you go, sir” she handed me the business card, “On the back it’s about loyalty points because of the World Cup” She flipped it over and hand it to me.

“This side has the phone number to ring for take-away”. She smiled and left.

I fished out my mobile and dialled — luckily the card had the number printed in large letters.

“Hello?”

“Nando’s Silverburn?”

“Yes, hello, I’d like to order half-a-chicken, medium hot for take-away”

“Take-away? Putting you through”

“Hello?”

“Hello, Take-away, what can I get you”

“Hi, yes I’d like a medium hot half-a-chicken take-away. Can you tell me how long it will be before I need to collect?”

“Half-a-Chicken… what’s you name?”

“DEVINE”

“What’s your phone number?”

“Oo, I’m sorry; I don’t actually know it off-hand — can’t you see the caller ID?”

“Sorry but we need your phone number”

“Oh, right; well then I can call right back once I’ve looked it up on my phone”

“Are you here?”

“What?”

“Look to your right — is that you I’m talking to?”

I turned and a fat girl with curly blonde hair and a sour face was looking at me and waving a cordless phone.

“Yes, I…” I spoke into the phone, unnecessarily as she’d hung up. I was puzzled, so I hung up too.

“We can’t take your order” she said face-to-sneering face.

“Eh? Why not?” I was genuinely surprised.

“You’re in the queue”

“But you have a call and collect telephone number, and I used it”

“But you’re in the queue”

“Yes I know, are you suggesting that I can’t call and collect if I’m in the queue?”

“You’re in the queue!” She was getting louder. I just looked puzzled at her.

She addressed the entire queue upstream and downstream of me, “You’re in the queue, if I take your order, how would all these other people feel about you jumping the queue?” she waved her arms wide down down sides of the queue, her audience.

“So you want me to take a couple of steps aside out from this queue — or maybe go out to the car park to use my phone for the call and collect, and that would be OK?” I queried almost as loudly back at her.

“You’re in the queue, so I can’t take your order, and it won’t be very long now” she patronised.

I was stunned.  She had been rude and unpleasant to me.  I didn’t think I was being unreasonable, especially as I have no experience of their weird procedures.

The people in the queue ahead of me had skipped ahead of me, yet I was being accused of trying to jump the queue!  The waitress had every opportunity to tell me that calling was unacceptable when she fetched me the telephone number, but didn’t. The folk ahead of me were out for the night, dining at tables — they wouldn’t care about my take-away order whether I phoned it in from home, the car park or the queue.  Like me, they’d probably think it was odd that the take-away did not have a separate queue of its own.

It was an uncomfortable wait in the queue after that; I could feel the queue, the diners and even the staff acting uncomfortable and strained. Maybe the sullen girl realised that the mood had changed, for all of a sudden,  she turned,  gave me a strange look, and said to me (but loud enough for everyone to hear):

“You are in the queue, and we can’t have queue jumpers like you, it won’t be long now then it’ll be your turn.”

Well, that did it for me; at this point I decided that I didn’t want their overpriced half-chicken — ever!

Nando’s is a no-no for me forever. I frisbee’d the take-away leaflet onto the counter.

“You know” I said, “I think you are wrong about this, and I think your continually saying ‘You’re in the queue’ is just to wind me up; it’s complete bollocks as far as I am concerned, and you have just put me right off the whole idea.”

I walked away, stomach churning. 45 minutes of my life I will never get back.

I walked into Tesco, straight up to half way, turn left and down — grabbed a couple of tubs of fat-free yoghurts, then onto the Hot Deli. I got TWO roasting hot freshly roasted large chickens — one BBQ and the other extra tasty as a two for £6.00 deal. I popped back up the aisle, and got a till within 5 seconds. I was in and out of Tesco in 5 minutes, and dashed back to the car to apologies to Ruthie and tell her about the dreadful service at Nando’s.

We got home and as we stuffed ourselves on delicious, moist, tender chickens for a lot cheaper than Nando’s fayre – -we reflected that we could just buy Peri-Peri from Tesco to get the same thing only better and faster.

One thing that puzzles me about Nando’s is that they state in their menu that (1) they cook the chicken anew each time, so it takes a while to do fresh,  (2) they have marinaded all their chickens overnight, (3) they have different strengths of hotness (Extra Hot, Hot, Medium, Lemon and Herb or Mango and lime, and plain), and (4) they do 1/4 chickens, 1/2 chickens and hole chickens.

To get the level of hotness, they would need to marinade each size of chicken with each level of hotness.

So they would need to marinade a quarter chicken in extra hot peri-peri, another quarter chicken in hot marinade, another quarter in medium marinade — and so on, then they would have to do the same for half-chickens, then whole chickens

That’s six hotnesses multiplied by 3 sizes of chicken multiplied by the right number of orders for each chicken size/ hotness marinade.

That means an awful lot of waste. So I am not convinced.  The only two ways I can see a business run profitably would be if the chicken was not “fresh” — so that if food was not called for today, it would be carried over to the next day and not thrown out each day. Alternatively, it could work profitably if, instead of marinading in extra hot over night, they marinade all chickens over night equally — to some insipid base level, then add hotness at the cooking stage.

My money’s with the latter; which means that the marinade is not quite as important as they make out — and this means that Nando’s is selling chicken with a peri-peri sauce — and Chicken is incredibly cheap.  It’s just chicken at the end of the day — nothing “special”.

Therefore, I believe we can easily live without Nando’s, their weird procedures and rules, and their insulting, charmless and unattractive staff.

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Comments»

1. Patty - 2010/07/16

I am an American, and have visited the UK a few times. I have to admit, most places I stepped in to eat, the “procedures” were absolutely baffling to me. I think I lost 15 lbs on one trip because getting something to eat became so stressful, I would rather go without. Markets are sooo much better. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that has trouble :-)

No Nando for me, either!


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