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Pub crawlers thrilled as Sonford Fish and Chips roars back into business

The popular fast-food eatery Sonford Fish and Chips is back in business. After a one-year hiatus, the diner reopened on June 4, and this time with more space, eager to satisfy the appetite for hearty chicken and chips.

The popular joint went up in flames at 10pm on August 27, 2021. Its old location was swiftly converted into a construction site. Everyone assumed that marked the end of the road for the eatery.

Before its closure, it was the go-to joint for pub crawlers looking for a ready hot meal of chicken and chips on their way home after clubbing. After it closed, several new eateries opened, aiming to fill the void.

With dozens of cooked chickens rotating in a glass oven at its entrance, high stools, mirrors, US vehicle number plates on its walls and a life-size sculpture of a policeman in sunglasses, Sonford retained this signature image for years.

Before Covid-19 snuffed the nightlife out of the city, many would leave the many nightclubs dotting Moi Avenue and Kimathi Street and stagger into Sonford to have a bite.

Whether it was 2am, 4am or 2pm, Sonford was always open. From Sunday to Sunday, its workers dispensed the bitings with unmatched speed. It was popular for affordable chips and chicken that could be garnished with free chilli sauce and vinegar diluted in water.

Before March 2020, Sonford was so popular that at some point in 2019 it trended on Twitter for a whole day, as many Kenyans recalled their memories in the restaurant.

“There was this guy Waweru on the chicken counter, we would give him Sh300 ‘chini ya maji’ and he would give us a whole chicken, chop it up and wrap it. Months later Sonford fired him after they probably got wind of his deals,” said one such tweet by Leshan Adrian.

Although the takeaway restaurant is known as Sonford Fish and Chips, it ceased to offer fish on its menu decades ago. Their main meal is still chips and chicken.

Images of the popular Sonford Fish and Chips after it went up in flames on August 27, 2021. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

At the entrance, dozens of grilled full chickens are still rotating in a glass oven, high stools dot the sitting area with mirrors, US vehicle number plates hang on its walls and a life-size sculpture of a policeman in sunglasses watches.

Sonford retained the signature image as it served its food in record time on paper and without cutlery.

And for a few coins, one can still get a sachet of tomato sauce or mildly hot kachumbari. Also on the menu is chilled juice or soda.

And Nairobians are happily trooping back to the joint.

“I am happy that Sonford is back. My first boyfriend brought me here for our first date. At least now I will still rub it off on the children’s face that I used to eat there,” said Esther Namosi, a mother of two.

Mohammed said: “I have not been there yet, but I am happy it is back. I remember I used to get lunch from there because it’s close to our office and now that it is back we have to resume going because there [is] still chicken and chips.”

Said Roselyn Wangechi: “I went there on Sunday, I loved it because their chips and chicken still taste the same, I am happy it’s back. It is a place that carries my teenage memories and when I knew it had opened I passed here with a friend of mine as we used to when we were 18 just to have a taste of it.”

Its sister outlets Altona, Arizona, Nevada and Memphis Fish and Chips, all located in downtown Nairobi, also operate on a similar model of affordability and speed.

The speed, though, has in the past been a source of misery for some customers, who claim to have been swindled of their hard-earned cash by the servers.