Opinion - Charles Graham

Charles Graham
Charles Graham

RUMOUR has it that Wigan might finally lose its title of the Largest Town In Britain Not To Have A Concert Hall Or A Nando’s.

The performance venue may be a way off yet (although there are stirrings off Pottery Road), but the jungle drums suggest that the internationally-popular chicken chain might be poised to move in at last.

Its target, so the speculation goes, could be the eatery formerly known as Sharpy’s: The one-time gym standing in the shadow of the the DW Stadium that Dave Whelan spent more than £1m converting into a very tasteful-looking restaurant to be run by his grandson David Sharpe.

Personally I found my single Nando’s experience rather underwhelming. Mind you it would have been hard to live up to the ludicrously hype I had been bombarded with beforehand.

If it does come, then we would surely have to get our near-homonyminous MP Lisa Nandy to open it!

But, flippancy aside, my thoughts at the moment lie with those staff at Sharpy’s who now find themselves without a job.

The place was only open for 21 months but, despite having a different offer from other fish and chip shops in the area, it rarely attracted enough custom.

Some folk griped a bit about the prices but they were hardly exorbitant, especially as the portions were more generous than average and the quality high. And the restaurant was very swish too.

Its main problem - which I feared the moment its advent was announced - was its location.

Tucked away at the intersection of two cul-de-sacs, it was always going to struggle to pick up passing trade unless there was a match on at the DW. And so it proved.

I’ve already heard it suggested (not from Mr Whelan I hasten to add) that it might be better to reincarnate it in a few years’ time as part of the major Galleries redevelopment when a piazza surrounded by leisure and food-type establishments are created at the New Market Street end of town.

With the Youth Zone, UTC and college just across the road and shops all around it would have a much better chance of survival.

Whether the vacated Robin Park would be off-putting to Nando’s is a moot point. Such a kudos and following does this chain have that you could put one on top of a mountain and still be fighting the crowds off with a stick.