Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
INTERNATIONAL fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) which launched with a false start in Bulawayo after a bombing threat has actually been highly embraced by the city’s residents, giving competing food outlets in the city a good run for their money.
Apparently, the threats to bomb the building housing the eatery emerged after word did rounds that KFC had mostly employed people from Harare leaving those from Bulawayo jobless, angering some. Action had to be taken and the building, during its first week, had a heavy police presence, something that put fear in most foodies, but once the dust had settled and people discovered people from Bulawayo had been employed, things normalised and the police stopped guarding the place.
Interestingly, the Drive Through restaurant located at the Bradfield Shopping Centre opened three weeks ago, yet long queues are still the order of the day. – Advertisement –
Constant visits have shown that it takes an average 25 minutes for one to place an order, be it through the drive through or inside the restaurant. Buying inside though seems to be a bit faster as there are four till operators compared to outside where there are two options — the ordering machine and a till operator.
Mainly, people are having a torrid time buying because since KFC is new, most are not familiar with the menu and prices so will not be sure what to order leaving them with no option but to take their time acquaint themselves – often frustrating those in the queue. Also, people are being spoilt for choice as there are a lot of dishes on offer, leaving many even more confused. But, just like a mother in labor, most are ignoring the frustration and waiting patiently for their turn as they know the food is finger licking good and worth each penny.
KFC Bulawayo is the fifth branch of the American brand which is being franchised in Zimbabwe by Crispy Chicken Restaurants (Pvt) Limited.
Bulawayo residents expressed excitement with the outlet saying they are delighted to feel the succulent taste of the Kentucky fried chicken in their mouths.
“My children were only used to eating KFC when I travel to South Africa and bring it for them. But, the taste was different from now when we go to the actual outlet and do a sit-in as a family and eat fresh hot food.
“They love especially the Twisters and Krushers which they always craved for each time they saw them on television and unfortunately, I couldn’t bring those all the way from South Africa,” said Brigette Malunga.
Another customer, Alexis Dube said: “I’m very happy about KFC finally opening in Bulawayo. I think it was long overdue because we were starved of the quality of their products, especially the dunked wings.
“Every time I travelled to Harare, my first port-of-call was KFC because we didn’t have it here.”
Not to be left out are bars and supermarkets around the shopping centre who could not hide their joy as the restaurant has boost their business because of the high volume of traffic frequenting the area.
“I must admit that our sales have greatly improved. Most men who drink have not been patient enough to stand in the long queues so they’ve been patronising nearby bars waiting for their families to place orders.
“Some have also been forced to do some shopping at the supermarkets and from vendors,” said a shop manager who preferred anonymity.
Some have, however, expressed concern over the exorbitant prices being charged by KFC. A chicken piece is being sold for $2 compared to most outlets which charge $1 with a bucket with 21 pieces costing $32. Some said they feel shortchanged as KFC in South Africa is way cheaper, urging Crispy Chicken Restaurants to review their prices. In South Africa, a Streetwise 2 served with small chips costs R31.90 (approximately $2.50) while in Zimbabwe it is being sold for $4, with the 21-piece bucket costing R249.90 ($19) compared to the local $32, almost double the price.
Also, the restaurant has been urged to ensure that their chicken is well cooked as sometimes, likely due to the tremendous pressure, the chicken is served not well done.
Other than that, KFC is playing popular among many and has been praised for creating meals to suit the local market like their famous Streetwise which is being served with sadza or sadza nuggets to replace the traditional chips.
KFC which had closed its operations in Zimbabwe during the economic challenges in 2007, reopened in 2014 in Harare. — @winnie_masara.