Simbisa Brands Zimbabwe has recently opened a new outlet in Karoi in Mashonaland West on the route from Harare to Chirundu – a major route for locals, tourists visiting the northern regions like Kariba, and truckers on the way to Zambia and beyond. The official opening took place on the 16th December, 2019, just a few months before March 2020 Corona lockdown. The new purpose built complex is situated along the main road near the Zuva Service
Station so it’s very convenient and accessible for both locals and travellers. The new complex accommodates Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Bakers Inn and Creamy Inn – so there’s something tempting for everyone! The first Chicken Inn in Zimbabwe was opened in 1987 and since then Simbisa has grown phenomenally to cover 9 African countries across the region with hundreds of outlets for their various brands. Apart from Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Bakers Inn and Creamy Inn – which are the best known and most loved – other brands include Haefelis, Ocean Basket, RocoMamas, Fish Inn, Nandos and more. Karoi has traditionally been a rather sleepy, ‘drive through’ town with little to entice people to stop over or linger, but the new food outlet has changed all that. Although Pick n Pay, N Richards and Farm and City previously serviced residents, the new Chicken Inn (and a new OK Supermarket) have helped to change and revitalize Karoi’s character. Simbisa employ most of the staff for their various outlets from local residents so the new complex has created much needed employment opportunities in the area. Employment is generally on a long term, sustainable basis and staff are trained in hospitality and food production. The new Karoi complex currently offers full time employment to 39 staff members, and of course, there have been other downstream jobs created. Hopefully other investors will follow. The new Simbisa outlet will also provide healthy completion for other food providers ensuring that the quality of the food on offer is good and prices are competitive. Because of their size and diversity Simbisa can provide the same excellent quality at all their outlets – like Chicken Inn – where the menu and the pricing is the same across the country from Harare to smaller towns. Apart from maintaining quality and pricing across their various outlets Simbisa is also careful to maintain their hard won brand identity. The design of the new complex is very similar to their other outlets and so it’s instantly recognizable. It’s a design that’s been proven to work well and has been refined over the years to maximize their welcoming atmosphere, easy service and customers’ convenience. The complex was designed by South African architectural firm Pattichides and Partners who have worked closely with Simbisa over the years on a number of different projects including their drive through Chicken Inn at the Village Walk in Borrowdale which was featured in Structure and Design issue (13) The interior design is clean, cheerful and colourful with ample seating for customers.
The different outlets are clearly identified by colour coded bulkheads, wall tiles and counters as well as backlit images of the food selections on offer. Big windows at the front make the seating area well lit during the day while overhead hanging circular lights and recessed spots warm up the space after dark. Local players in the project include the main contractor JM Construction, Engineers Dickie and Kunaka and Project Managers Maonde and Associates. Most of the ingredients for their food (and some finished products like bread rolls and baked goods) are sourced through Simbisa’s Central Kitchen in Willowvale and rolls and confectionery are transported fresh every day. This ensures quality can be strictly monitored and because the Central Kitchen buys in huge quantities prices can be kept as low as possible. Response by the public has been great so far – from both locals and travellers – with the customer count continuing to grow. The complex opened at the beginning of this year with customer numbers being initially high but then dropping with the onset of the COVID pandemic. Numbers are now picking up to pre-pandemic levels. Simbisa has invested a huge amount of capital in new outlets recently including at Village Walk in Borrowdale, a new branch in Shurugwi and new outlets planned for Chitungwiza and for Robson Manyika in Harare.
text: Michael Nott photos: Structure and Design