Annie Baptiste takes a tongue in cheek look at why Spur, and franchising, works

My family and I recently had the privilege of seeing the best of what Namibia has to offer, during a two week driving holiday. We decided to spoil ourselves and stayed in really nice lodges and enjoyed all the comforts and food that go along with Namibian hospitality. We were really spoilt and our food consisted of haute cuisine in some places to good old-fashioned buffets with sumptuous spreads including a choice of at least one type of venison every night. I have never seen my kids (eight and ten years old) eat as much or enjoy the variety so much.

Hence my surprise, when on our return through Upington we decided to have a late lunch before hitting our beds early in preparation for the last 800km stretch home. Since we had dictated the programme for the past two weeks the kids had choice. “Burgers! Definitely burgers!” was the unanimous decision. Now, Upington has quite a selection of your usual burger places but there are also a few really nice spots. At one of these we actually had a fantastic burger meal on our way through at the start of our trip. We thought that this spot with its leafy outdoor area and “cool” jungle gyms would be the place of choice. No such luck! We were instructed to look for the Spur.

Now I am the first to admit that I am relieved that my kids are past the age where we have to go to Spur. You know, the time when your kids can’t sit still or be quiet, and the Spur is the only place where you will not be looked at strangely, because everyone else’s kids are screaming louder than yours?

  • Going to Spur for the first time in a long time, reminded me why it is so popular and why it is always a good choice, kids or not.
  • Firstly, you know what you are going to get.
  • A friendly waiter, dressed in a cheesy check shirt, who bends down to take your order
  • Kitsch Native American art on the walls that still fascinates me, even though I have been going to the Spur for at least (cough) 30 years.
  • Those cool cow-hide pattern benches where you can stretch out and relax. I can’t help thinking of that poor kid in the advertisement that is willing to sit through the dental torture because of a Spur pattern dentist chair.
  • EVERYTHING tastes like barbeque sauce, even the salad. But man, that is a barbeque sauce we enjoy, especially when we mix it with that pink 1000 Island’s dressing, and as it drips, you can lick it of your fingers.

You know you are going to get a man size portion of fries and even though you promise yourself – EVERY time – that you are not going to eat the onion rings (because you know what happens when you do) you still end up demolishing at least half of them. I know it’s more than half, but it makes me feel better if I think I haven’t had more than that.

It is this comfort and familiarity that makes it easy to forgive the odd slip up. Waiting a little long between courses is not a serious problem, because you are comfortable and the kids are occupied. Finding something that shouldn’t be in your food or glass or in the bathroom is not the end of the world because the staff deal with it quickly and apologetically. You can forgive a mistake with your order because they will fix it. And you know the next time you go to Spur you will get the same experience.

On leaving the Spur I asked my kids why they chose the Spur. The answer from my ten year old: “Mommy, Spur people have a taste for life! And didn’t we just have the best holiday of our lives? I think it was a good way to end a good holiday!”

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