Africa’s Successful Restaurant Chains

Forget McDonald’s and KFC, these restaurant chains originated in Africa and some are taking the world by storm…

10. Hot Dog Cafe

The ‘Home of the South African hot dog’ has traded for over 10 years now, offering consumers “a nostalgic journey back to the ‘good old days’ when traditional value was truly on a roll”. Ranging from diners to convenient mobile carts, there are now 130 mobile outlets in operation serving the American influenced treat.


Named after the surname of the Egyptian brothers it was established by in 1988, the sandwich restaurants serve over nine million customers in Egypt alone each year. With branches in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Libya, Sudan and Malaysia, this reach is fast growing.

8. DoRego’s

Captain DoRego’s’ was established in Cape Town in the early 1970s and has since enjoyed steady growth, now with over 60 outlets across SA, with the ‘Captain’ eventually being dropped from the name in 2009. DoRego’s serves everything from breakfast meals to chicken, fish and chips, burgers and sandwiches. Selected stores also incorporate a fresh/frozen fish counter.

7. Barcelos

With 93 stores in seven different countries, Barcelos’ success speaks for itself. Very similar to Nando’s, the marinated flame-grilled chicken specialists originated in SA. The pilot store opened in Pretoria in 1993 and has grown into a successful international franchise.

6. Debonairs Pizza

Proudly describing itself as the leading pizza restaurant in Africa, Debonairs has come a mighty long way since two South African university students dreamt up the concept in 1991. Acquired by the now Famous Brands group in 1996, it has restaurants across the continent from the Ivory Coast to Mozambique and internationally in Dubai.

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5. Scooters Pizza

“We deliver. Hot. Tasty. Fast.” The catchphrase of Scooters sums up what the company is all about. Started by three men disgruntled with having to wait so long for a good pizza to be delivered, the first restaurant opened in Durban in 2000. Not content with 128 outlets across SA, the brand says it is heading for “World Pizza Domination”.

4. Ocean Basket

South Africa’s favourite seafood chain was born when brothers Fats and George Lazarides teamed up with George Nichas in 1995 to open a restaurant in Menlyn Park shopping centre in Pretoria. Now with 130 stores throughout Africa, it has started to expand internationally. With some branches having a fresh-fish deli too, you can takeaway or eat in.

3. Spur Steak Ranches

Founded in Cape Town in 1967, Spur fast developed a reputation for tasty, nutritious, value-for-money meals. There are now 245 Spur Steak Ranches in South Africa and 28 international restaurants including branches in the UK and Australia. Their legendary steaks have become real family favourites.

2. Chicken Licken

Opening its first restaurant in Ridgeway, South Africa in 1981, the self-acclaimed ‘Soul Food’ chain has restaurants across the country and also in Botswana. Serving fried chicken meals, a 2007 Sunday Times Markinor Best Brands survey cited Chicken Licken as the second largest fast food brand in South Africa behind rivals KFC.

1. Nando’s

The chicken specialist has experienced a meteoric rise since two friends, Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte, ate at a small restaurant called Chickenland in 1987.

Calling it the best chicken they’d ever tasted, the pair bought the place and renamed it Nando’s after Duarte. Little did they know it would kick-start a venture that would oversee the opening of hundreds of restaurants across 30 countries and in five continents.

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With a Portuguese/Mozambican theme, Nando’s is famous for its flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken, with flavours from lemon and herb to extra spicy for those who like their food hot.

Nando’s has become the restaurant of choice for hungry diners all over the world, including the rich and famous. David Beckham and Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson are even regular visitors.

The brand has also caused controversy in some territories for controversial adverts, although the chain continues to draw mass appeal worldwide.

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