Nandos – Tuning in to a demographic in a tasty way

Reno Silva

International casual dining restaurant chain “Nandos” has put a new spin on things, pun intended. First of all, it should be noted that the company is a giant one, one that has about 1000 restaurants worldwide in over 30 countries while employing upwards of 5,000 people, from dine-in to takeout. It has always been their mantra that they feature Portuguese BBQ chicken with a good amount of focus put on different kinds of piri-piri (peri-peri in English).
The restaurant had its inception in 1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa by Portuguese-born audio engineer Fernando Duarte and entrepreneur friend Robert Brozin. They purchased a local restaurant specializing in chicken featured with piri piri, a chili pepper available wild and as a crop throughout various African countries. The success was immediate, as it had a youthful approach with the walls written with various facts about piri piri, and the approach was no-nonsense BBQ chicken with piri fries and/or piri rice with bottles of various spice level and marinades of piri piri sauce. It did so well that it was inevitable that it would make its way around the world, to the current number stated earlier, about 30 countries. We have 29 locations here in Canada, of interest however is Great Britain, which have 280 locations.
In Soho London, essentially the entertainment district of London, and home to its ever world trend-setting music scene – Nando’s has put a recording studio in one of their main restaurants. Yes, you read that right. At first it seems a strange marriage of sorts to bind them together, but when we remember that founder Fernando Duarte was an audio engineer, it doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea. Ingenious actually, to do two things – add to the entertainment district’s thriving music scene, all the while attracting and staying relevant with London’s youthful demographic.

Nando’s restaurant in Soho, recording studio 6 December 2017

The recording studio which opened January 17th, 20018 is small, but employs an in-house engineer, contains 1 high-end Neumann U87, an iMac with a few of the top end recording platforms and plugin software. These days, the power has really been given to the artist with so much you can do on your own with a laptop and software, this is much of that. All you need is there, with proper equipment to facilitate your ideas to tape (disc) with the help of someone who really knows what to do. They even have highlight artists from the area that have gone on to be successful throughout Europe such as Stormyz and Ella Eyre. The studio is free to use, pending your successful acceptance by way of an online application. What is unique about it is that you get to record, while people

Nando’s recording studio in the Soho restaurant on Frith Street in London. 5th December 2017

are eating, almost like people looking in at kids playing in a playland in some of the fast food restaurants we have here locally.
Another reason why this doesn’t seem far-fetched is because of Nando’s Music Exchange, an online event now in its 3rd year in which they bring together the best talent and mentors from around the globe to come together and collaborate on a 6 song EP. They literally have musicians working online together recording things for one another, it seems obvious and only fitting that they would highlight it by bringing it all together into a risqué setting – one of their own restaurants, while people are eating and watching. London is one of the world’s musical beacon music scenes, so much from there that influences the entire music world.
How novel and obvious while intuitive and relevant – the 2 things we all partake in, music and food co-existing in a single location. Taking it one step further is the ingenious part of all this, where you see how it gets done, almost like when you stand outside the window of a pizzeria watching the person making it. Thing is though, at the Nando’s on Frith Street, Soho London, you may just get to enjoy some delicious piri piri chicken while listen to a hit song get made!

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