We’ve been ranked in the top 50 Fish & Chip shops Three Years in a Row!

We’ve had some exceptional news today with the receipt of our Fry Magazine 50 Best Fish & Chip Shops 2017 results – We have been placed as one of the top 50 Fish & Chip shops in the UK for three years in a row – a feat only a select few shops have ever achieved!

 

Fry Magazine are an industry leading trade magazine who operate a yearly review of Fish & Chip shops by use of a mystery shopper – we never know when the visits will be, so this is a true test of how we serve customers and the consistent quality of our food. The mystery shopper assesses various aspects ranging from a telephone call to the quality of the food and scores us against fixed parameters, so the scoring is fair across the country.

 

This year we lot points on two sections – incidentally the same sections we lot points on last year. The first was our answerphone, which at the time the reviewer called was the default bland message of the telephones we had installed. I  have since added a musical on hold message which provides all the information you need and lets you hold until we answer. The second area we lost points on is a contentious one for me – we were marked down for not suggesting the customer bought extra items. Personally I believe in asking the customer what they want rather than pushing them to buy things they might not really want.

 

I am however very pleased with the reviewers personal comments, specifically the last two paragraphs which stated “It was the best fish and chips I had tasted in a long time.” and “I would definitely recommend to friends and family.”. Whatever awards and reviews a shop gets – these are the words that mean the most, and I am very proud of what I and my team offer.

 

As per the previous years, I am more than happy to provide the whole review so you can see everything we have been tested on and how we fared.

Criminal activity at the shop

On the 26th November 2016 we were broken into. At that time I left the coins in the tray in the till, and he took those as well as the tray from the till and the Charity box. The culprit was identified by a fingerprint he left on the side of the till, caught on the 6th December and sentenced to 18 weeks in prison. He was also on licence for earlier crimes so should have served more than that. In total the repairs cost me £380.

 

Apparently he was released early though, as just 9 weeks later we were broken into again, and it turned out it was the same guy! This time he wore gloves, was surprised to find no cash in the till and instead broke open the drawers on the office desk, but left empty handed as we now lock everything of value in the safe. He dropped a cigarette butt outside the shop, which the police got DNA from and caught him on the 3rd March, sentencing him the following day for 13 weeks.

 

Given the lax prison service presumably releasing him after serving half his sentence again, I expect to see him again around the 19th of April!

Portion Sizes and Healthy Eating

On Friday the BBC News ran a story saying that Fish & Chip Shops were being “Urged to sell smaller portions”.

 

We have always sold a smaller portion of Fish & Chips, and in the past have sold smaller portions of all of our main dishes, but quite simply most customers prefer the regular portion. We even offer a meal deal with our smaller portion, in which you get a portion of sauce or a teacake with your small Fish & Chips at a discounted price – an offer not available with the regular portions.

 

Despite this, only 18% of customers buy the smaller portion. Simply put, customers buy what they want to buy. Although we offer smaller portions and even price them more attractively we cannot force customers to buy them.

 

I particularly liked the quote from the National Federation of Fish Friars, correctly stating that fish and chips are twice as healthy as burgers and chips – this is a fact that is frequently glossed over or misquoted in the press, but fish & chips are healthier than a lot of comparable takeaways.

 

One area of the article made me chuckle though – they compared fish & chip shops to multi-national takeaways like McDonalds and KFC, pointing out that the multi-national companies provide nutritional information for all of their menu items, where fish & chip shops generally do not.

 

I have looked into nutritional analysis, and at around £200 per dish tested, it would be an incredibly costly process to carry out. Any independent takeaway that does provide this kind of information must be charging over the odds to be able to afford it.

 

I always feel that the bad press that the fish & chip industry gets is unwarranted. I wonder if the BBC will run a similar article about the swathes of independent burger shops, Indian & Chinese takeaways, pizza shops and kebab shops who don’t offer smaller portions and do not have nutritional analysis for every dish?

 

Perhaps a fairer article would be getting a portion of each of the major types of takeaways (including the multi-nationals) and providing nutritional analysis of each of the dishes – both for the dish as a whole, and per 100g, so we can see the reality of which takeaway is healthiest of all.

Food Safety at Work Training

All our staff have undergone Food Safety training and have passed their level 2 courses, while I have taken & passed the level 3 course (the highest grade).

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I have been reluctant to do these courses, as I already ensure that all staff are comprehensively trained in all relevant areas of food safety, and this training has simply provided a certificate to prove their ability.

 

Recently however, the Telegraph & Argus ran an article on food safety ratings, and some businesses said that the only reason they got zero scores was that they didn’t have this training – but this training is not a requirement of the rating system (as proved by us having the highest rating of 5 and not previously had the certificates). While it is not a requirement, It is a certificate to show that you are doing what is needed, and as such gives the Food Standards Authority and customers more confidence that staff working according to the standards required.

 

As such, we not have all our staff certificates on display in the shop, so everyone can see that we have been trained to carry out the best practices in everything we do.