The time is 7.30pm on a Wednesday, and the place is Shepherd’s Bush, west London. All along the Uxbridge Road, small, overlit counters-in-a-cupboard offer you takeaway evening meals. If you’re on the lookout for gristle on a stick, or deep-fried nearly-meat and soggy chips, it’s your lucky night. If not, keep walking west until you see the friendly red logo, the neon Portuguese rooster of Nando’s.
Inside, you’ll see that the restaurant is busy, but the waitress finds you a spot. Who else is eating? On a large table at the back is a sprawling collection of friends: some baseball-hatted teenagers, some mums and dads. Thirtysomethings Duran and Yvonne are among them. Duran likes Nando’s hot chicken because “it reminds me of Caribbean food”. Yvonne approves of the low prices, loves the corn on the cob and likes her chicken medium, not too spicy. “And you get your food quick!”
Nearby sits Sandro, 22, the cashier, who has just clocked off. He’s from Portugal, is studying in England and has been working here for a year and a half. Now he trains new staff. “The standards are very important – customer service, the cooking and serving. I like working with the customers, even when it’s very busy, like when there is football.”