Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
NANDO’S lovers in Victoria Falls will no longer have to travel for 400km to Bulawayo or cross the border to Botswana and Zambia to enjoy flame-grilled Nando’s meals as the brand opened its first branch in the resort town on Thursday.

It becomes Nando’s 14th branch in Zimbabwe. The launch came at a time Nando’s Zimbabwe is celebrating its silver jubilee in the country after opening its first branch at Avondale suburb in Harare 25 years ago.

Victoria Falls residents and tourists included, have the town’s municipality to thank for its push for city status as this played a significant role in encouraging Nando’s Zimbabwe, trading under Simbisa Brands, to open the branch.

The Nando’s opening adds to already existing Chicken Inn, Haefelis and Pizza Inn brands by the same company.

Commenting on Nando’s opening, Victoria Falls residents said they are grateful as this will save them from travelling unnecessarily in search of their preferred fast food outlet.

Tourism ambassador, Carl Joshua Ncube who was the MC at the Nando’s opening on Thursday hailed Simbisa for bringing the brand to their doorstep.

“We used to travel over 100km from Victoria Falls just to get Nando’s, crossing borders and stamping passports even. But now, it’s just a walking distance. God is good,” said a visibly excited Ncube.

A youthful Victoria Falls resident, Nkosinomusa Tshuma said: “We’re grateful for what Nando’s has done. It’s now up to us to support it the way we’ve been supporting other Nando’s branches elsewhere so that it remains in our town.”

Country manager for Nando’s Zimbabwe, Stephen Chamboko said Victoria Falls residents were the biggest beneficiaries as the branch employed locals only.

“Nando’s Zimbabwe is positive about the outlook and we felt this was the appropriate time to prepare for the future. Sometimes, you have to invest when the chips look low.

“We saw an opportunity in Victoria Falls which will soon be a city and found it appropriate to bring another Simbisa brand to Victoria Falls to provide variety,” said Chamboko.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the colourful launch on Thursday evening where scores of residents and businesspersons were entertained by imbube group Ubuntu Bomuntu before being accorded an opportunity to be the first to taste the brand’s meals.

“Nando’s is a fast-food casual dining facility for people especially between the ages of 25 and 40. The brand originated from South Africa and has spread around the world.

“We call our branches CASA and our first was in Avondale, Harare which opened in 1995. We’re looking at increasing our footprint in Zimbabwe and we’re always looking for opportunities,” added Chamboko.

Currently, 70 percent of Nando’s restaurants are in Harare while the other 30 percent is in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare which have one shop each. There are over 1 200 Nando’s restaurants worldwide. – @ncubeleon