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Chicken Inn’s New Village Walk Drive-Thru

VILLAGE WALK in Borrowdale is still one of the leading shopping malls in Zimbabwe and has recently completed its phase 2 expansion. Designed by South Africanbased, international architectural firm Boogertman and Partners, and developed by Terrace Africa and Mopani Properties, in conjunction with local retail giant TM Pick n Pay, introduced a new concept in shopping for Zimbabweans – the strip mall. Anchored by Pick n Pay supermarket, shoppers can also enjoy a host of other great stores and services. There are banks, electronic and hardware specialists Solution Centre and Electrosales.

Trendy Interior décor and design shops like Romeo Kitchens, Linden Hope and TV Sales and Homes, Simply Simbi, The Outdoor Shop and print specialists PrintWorks, Fly Africa, Nu way Dry Cleaners, Security shop. Art Attack for art supplies, sports shops Adidas and Mark Manolios, a pharmacy, a medical centre and an optician are also available. To pamper yourself there’s Matsimela Home Spa, Veldemeers delicious chocolates and pastries and Gelato Crema for Italian ice cream and coffee, great food from Rocomamas, Portos and the drive-thru Chicken Inn take away The concept of drive-thru businesses was first started in America in the 1930’s and has since spread to other countries around the world.

The first recorded drive-through business was allegedly a banking service provided by Grand National Bank of St Louis, Missouri. Several companies lay claim to the first drive-through restaurant. In-n-Out Burgers claims to have built the first drive-thru restaurant in the world in 1948 in California. Other sources cite Maid-Rite or Jack in the Box as the first major restaurant specifically designed as a drive-through and featuring a two-way intercom. Whatever the history of the drive-through really is, Zimbabwe can now claim four Chicken Inn Drive Thrus – three in Harare and one in Bulawayo – with plans to build more drive-through QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants) across Zimbabwe. Chicken Inn opened their first outlet in 1987 in Speke Avenue in Harare.

Due to their outstanding success they now boast 67 outlets throughout Africa, including Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria. Their QSR Business has grown to own and franchise outlets in other countries across Africa, including DRC, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, Swaziland and Lesotho. Simbisa Brands includes Chicken Inn, Baker’s Inn, Pizza Inn, Creamy Inn, Fish Inn, Haefelis, Nando’s and Steers. Furthermore, Simbisa owns the master license to other successful brands such as Galito’s Africa, and Vida E Caffé. On 5th August 2015 Simbisa was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Innscor. Chicken Inn’s first Drive Thru was opened in Greencroft in January 2016. They have another Drive Thru in Village Walk which was opened in February 2017, one in Bulawayo and now their newest branch at Avondale Drive Thru, which opened April 2017.

The idea behind the drive-throughs is to offer Chicken Inn’s famous fried chicken pieces (and a host of other menu items) in the shortest time and with the maximum convenience for customers. Chicken Inn also believe that their Drive Thrus are a great way of moving with the times as more families are pressed for time in today’s fast moving lifestyle. Once customers have received their food orders (the average waiting time is just 5 minutes) they can choose to eat in their cars, take their food home, or eat at the seating area adjacent to the stand up counter.

Food doesn’t just have to be ordered at the drivethru, there’s also a more traditional walk in order counter. Like their other Drive Thrus the Village Walk branch has a vibrant, colourful, family orientated image. The exterior of the building is made up of a series of geometric cubes clad in bright yellow and glossy red panels set against a neutral dark grey background. There’s a free playground space where children can be safely entertained while waiting for their orders, or while their parents are eating. There are climbing frames and slides for the little ones and even a room of video play stations for the older ones. Future Drive Thrus are planned to incorporate even bigger, more elaborate playgrounds!

Inside the Drive Thru – if you choose to walk in or to eat your order at the tables – you’ll find a bright, clean and vibrant space with different coloured wall tiles and brightly coloured comfortable chairs and tables. There’s even a wash basin where you can clean up before eating or wash your hands after your meal. From the counter customers can see through to the kitchen so they can watch their meals being prepared in the hygienic, modern kitchen. The Village Walk Drive Thru was designed by architect Pattichides & Partners Architecture & Design and the main contractor for the project was AM Machado Private Limited.

The project was overseen by Tich Chamboko who is responsible for projects implementation for Simbisa Brands Zimbabwe. All their ingredients are sourced locally with their chickens supplied by Irvine’s and vegetables sourced from local contract farmers, so Chicken Inns help to create a lot of downstream employment. Their ingredients are non-GM so they’re healthier too. Chicken Inn’s staff is recruited locally, so for example, a branch in Masvingo will recruit staff from Masvingo rather than from Harare or Bulawayo.

They engage in extensive staff training for their chefs, waiters, cashiers and other staff so they’re helping to promote skilled employment. They also have eco-friendly, bio-degradable packaging which is kinder to the environment. Simbisa promotes ‘sort at source’ waste management and supports EMA (Environmental Management Agency) with their cleanup programmes. As part of their corporate social responsibility programme they support Emerald Hills Children’s Home and other charities, and they sponsor the Chicken Inn Football Club which is aimed at helping disadvantaged or unemployed youth. The Chicken Inn Drive Thru at Village Walk is open 8 to 10pm Sunday to Thursday and 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.

Some exciting new stores have recently opened at Village Walk Borrowdale! Freshly Ground, Ria’s Florist, The Party Shack, Juniper and a Jewellery shop have landed and the expansion has seen an additional 65 Parking bays as part of the phase 2 expansion.

Text by Michael Nott

Photos by Michele Fortmann

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