In defence of chains

“I’m so against Franco Manca, it’s now a chain, I’d much prefer getting a pizza from an independent place.”

Now if my friend had said she much preferred an authentic pizza from a pizzeria in Italy I may be more understanding but Franco Manca started in Brixton Market and now has a 25 branches across London and one in Brighton, hence she will no longer look favourably on this being a cool place to eat.

Has she ever wondered why Franco Manca has grown into a successful chain? Perhaps it’s because they use simple, fresh, local ingredients. Perhaps it’s because they were one of the first brands to jump on the sourdough pizza bandwagon.

Or perhaps, god forbid, they make bloody good pizza and became so popular they opened more sites to meet the demand and make more money because at the end of the day they are a business. As great as it is being the cool, niche sourdough pizzeria in Brixton market; it’s not as great as being a rapidly expanding business raking in profit.

Don’t get me wrong I totally love supporting independent restaurants and bars – some of the best in London are independent. From Piano Works in Farringdon to Ping in Earl’s Court to The Shrub and Shutter in Brixton and M1lk in Balham – these are just a few of the great independent places off the top of my head. But if I want to go to the local wetherspoons or Greene King pub on Friday night to save a bit of cash is there really any need for the cool, edgy type to turn their noses up? If I fancy Wagamamas or a Nandos for lunch is it bad that I am choosing a chain over a local independent cafe? God forbid if I order a Dominoes over Franco Manco, let alone the independent Yard Sale Pizza based in Hackney.

Sometimes people are clueless and have no idea their cool after work local bar is one of many across the country. I was taken on a date to The Alchemist, Bevis Marks once; described as a cool sleek bar with amazing cocktails. I turned to my date and shocked him with the announcement that I’d been to their Leeds and Manchester bars already, and did he know they were opening one in my hometown Newcastle? Hawksmoor do the most fabulous steak and Sticks n Sushi are one of the best at what they do but people don’t bat an eyelid that either are a chain, so why show contempt for the more affordable everyday brands.

My point is, at the end of the day we should not be judged on where we choose to eat (excluding going into ethical and moral reasons – that can be left for a separate blog post). Everyone should be able to eat/drink wherever they like and whatever they are in the mood for, be it a local independent tapas place like Boqueira, Brixton or a chain like La Tasca.

Ultimately if somewhere is popular there will be increasing demand, Franco Manca and Wahaca are prime examples of this. There’s a gap in the market, they produce good food and drink and people want more simple. Don’t turn your nose up because someone on the other side of London has their own local branch.

(Featured image courtesy of:







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