BIG-NAME restaurant chain Nando’s will occupy a key space in Barnsley town centre’s £180m regeneration, the Chronicle can reveal.

The popular brand, which specialises in Portuguese-style chicken dishes and peri-peri marinades, is one of the most established in the UK with 350 nationwide outlets and it was announced yesterday that they will open their first Barnsley restaurant in The Glass Works.

Nando’s has been long sought after by locals, having consistently topped public consultation polls for the most wanted in the town.

The restaurant will be housed in the same block as Superbowl UK - a bowling, laser quest and soft play centre - as one of seven new other eateries in The Glass Works.

It will be a stone’s throw away from the new Cineworld cinema, a 13-screen, state-of-the-art multiplex scheduled to open in 2021.

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Fronting onto the new public square, the family-friendly restaurant - described as a ‘coup for Barnsley’ by council leader Sir Steve Houghton yesterday - will also provide outdoor seating.

“This is a real coup as Barnsley has been leaking trade, primarily to Wakefield and Sheffield, where Nando’s have restaurants,” he told the Chronicle.

“Our Nando’s will be situated next to the Cineworld and Superbowl UK, so this is something suited for all the family, as well as those youngsters who are making their first forays into the town centre without their parents and instead going with their mates.

“It’s a hugely popular chain and we’re thrilled it’s on its way to Barnsley as it is a big part of The Glass Works. Attracting more people into the town centre is what we’re trying to do and this is the key to that offering.”

Nando’s had previously signed up to occupying a retail space in Barnsley town centre more than a decade ago, but plans were eventually shelved.

Peter Atkinson, from Nando’s, added: “We are delighted to be part of this important new development in Barnsley town centre and look forward to opening the doors to our first restaurant in the town.

“I have no doubt this final part of the development will give a major boost to the town’s leisure offer and we are very pleased that we can now be part of it.”

Cabinet spokesman Coun Tim Cheetham hailed the news as something which will excite Barnsley’s residents - especially so given Nando’s consistently topped the council’s research polls as to what they would like to see in the new-look town centre.

“It is a huge name, not just in this country but worldwide and we’re thrilled it has chosen to expand into Barnsley,” he added.

“This is exciting news for local people. Nando’s has always been at the top of the wish list for local people and we’re happy to have delivered in bringing the chain to the town.”

It’s the latest positive move for the council-funded regeneration, after Barnsley Market opened last year and was followed by Library @ the Lightbox last month. Market Kitchen, an independent food court, will open its doors in the autumn.

The second phase of the development, which will include 26 new retail units and seven family-friendly restaurants, is underway.

Jocelyn Holmes of The Glass Works’ development partner, Queensberry, said: “We have received lots of interest, with many national food and drinks chains keen to be part of this transformational development.

“We are delighted to get Nando’s signed up as the first major restaurant chain in the scheme. They were always one of our primary targets and following public consultation feedback, we know it will go down well with the people of Barnsley.

“Sitting alongside Cineworld and Superbowl UK, you can really start to get a feel for how impactful the new leisure offer is going to be for the town and we’re sure families are very excited to start enjoying a day or evening out again in the town centre.”