I already knew that I kind of dislike chain stores, but this week sealed the deal. I bought some noodles at Wasabi and felt like I was an inconvenience on their conveyor belt of customers. No niceties, no hellos, just “this till!” “take your card!” “next!”

You come away from these places feeling stressed out!

Then Nando’s. We get a discount at a particular one my 9-5 place of work, so I went with a friend and even though there were (fake) pleasantries we felt like we were being harangued to free up the table. “Are you having any more of this sauce?” The servers seemed to be constantly checking if we were done yet because there was a queue of students waiting to be seated.

Costa Coffee is another conveyor belt type service that seems to be absolutely everywhere.

What I love about independents is that they tend to be friendly, helpful, flexible, interesting, unique, will give you a bit more for your money and they treat you like a human being. My favourite cafés are not national chains and they don’t have websites or Facebook pages, but they have a loyal customer base (even some celebrity visitors) because they are run by real people for real people  and you can’t beat word of mouth.

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