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'Some people quote Keats,’ said Ryan Wilson, a 30-year-old IT consultant from Birmingham, who holds the record for having eaten in the largest number of Nando’s chicken restaurants in Britain – possibly the world. There’s a good scene where Homer is preaching to Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians, and he talks about how we’re all going to come together, and he says, “Look, we’re not going to eat the cow, and we’re not going to eat pork, but hey, everybody likes chicken!” And they all agree, and it’s very true.’ Nando’s is the high-street restaurant chain that proclaims itself to be 'the home of the legendary Portuguese flame-grilled peri-peri chicken’.

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But it is where the ebulliently life-enhancing Nicola Adams would, she announced, be going to celebrate after becoming the first woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.

It is where footballers earning £25,000 a week are frequently to be found after training.

The British operation is owned by Yellowwoods, formerly Capricorn Ventures International, a private equity company that is owned by a South African family, the Enthovens, who made their fortune in insurance, and were early investors in Nando’s in South Africa.

The first two British branches opened in 1992, in Ealing and Earl’s Court, west London, serving primarily takeaway food. In 2012 Nando’s registered a profit of £14.7 million – up from a loss of £7 million in 2010-11, generated on sales of £419.5 million – a 26 per cent increase over the year.

An average meal in Nando’s – a quarter chicken, say, with two sides (chips, rice or coleslaw) with a soft drink (bottomless refills) – will cost you £9.30.

It is not, perhaps, what you or I might describe as aspirational, still less celebratory dining.

I’ve never had anything like it anywhere else in the UK’).

As schoolboys in north London, Colom and his friend Marc Joss would eat at Nando’s every weekend, a habit they continued at university in Birmingham. The site, on which different branches are anatomised with the exactitude of the Cordon Bleu guide, now gets about 500 hits a day and is, in itself, a testament to the peculiar hold that Nando’s exerts on the popular imagination.

It is particularly popular with young black Britons, who have grown up eating their mothers’ and grandmothers’ jerk chicken.

The ambulance, police and fire services and NHS workers like it because they get a 20 per cent discount.

The business struggled and was on the verge of collapse when the chairman, Richard Enthoven, handed it over to his son Robert – habitually described in business stories as 'a self-confessed bum’ – who shifted the emphasis from takeaways to what is known as a 'mixed service’ model, whereby customers are allocated a table and then order at a counter and collect their own cutlery before the food is brought to the table by servers. The 'fast casual’ restaurant, of which Nando’s is perhaps the leading example, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry.

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