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30 Minutes With...

 

Steve Knight, owner, Knights of Pontefract, Pontefract, West Yorkshire


Who was your celebrity hero when you were 18?
Probably Ian Brown of the Stone Roses. I’m a huge music fan and attended the Spike Island concert in 1990 when I was 18 and have seen them a few times since. They are still my favourite band.

How did you get into the industry?
My wife Jenny and I bought our first shop, Abbey Fisheries in Selby, four years ago and, while I stayed in my role working in insurance, Jenny made huge progress turning a run down shop into a thriving business. I was working away in London and was tired of the commute and being away from home so often. We spotted a vacant shop in a neighbouring town and wanted to set up a larger takeaway and restaurant. It has gone from strength to strength in the nine months since opening Knights of Pontefract, being a finalist at the British takeaway Awards and also being named in Fry Magazine’s Top 10 restaurants.

If you could change jobs with anyone else for the day who would it be?
I would love to be the footballer Lionel Messi for a day. To know you are the greatest of all time and to get paid to play a sport you love when you are at the top of your game must be fantastic.

What’s your favourite film?
That’s a difficult one as I love gangster movies, especially the Godfather trilogy and Goodfellas, but I would have to plump for an '80s British film called Gregory’s Girl. It was the first film I rented on VHS from the video shop but it’s a film that still makes me laugh today.

What was the first music single you bought?
Love & Pride by King. I doubt anyone would remember it but it got to No.1 and Woolworths had it on offer!

Do you have a nickname?
Playing sport until my early forties, I was only ever known as Knighty.

What did you want to be as a child?
I always dreamt of playing professional football. I played for my county when I was younger but was never fast enough to be any better than Sunday league standard. I gave up hope of my England call up a couple of years ago but will still be available if Gareth Southgate calls to take me to Russia this summer.

If you could have anyone join your team who would it be?
I am lucky in that both shops I have, we have two great teams who enjoy what they do and that comes across in the customer service we offer. We only try to recruit people who will fit into that, but I suppose Usain Bolt might help get around the restaurant quickly, clearing plates and serving!

What’s your favourite food?
I would say fish and chips but that would be cheating! I would have to say Italian as we recently traveled around Italy including Venice, Rome, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast and the food was amazing.

What sports team do you support?
I’m a Leeds United season ticket holder which is a constant source of frustration and disappointment. I have three sons and, although they are now 22, 20 and 18, they have only known disappointment so I have no idea why we put ourselves through it. We have even named our dogs Bremner and Lola Pontus after former and current players - much to Jenny’s disgust.

If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Probably Mohammed Ali at his peak, as he was everything you want in a champion but was also strong enough to speak out on controversial and important social topics

If you were Prime Minister for a day what’s the first thing you would do?
Invest in training and education for young people and give bigger incentives to companies that offer apprenticeships. Having three boys that have left school, I know how difficult it has been for them to find good apprenticeships and college courses that will lead to rewarding and fulfilling careers.

If you could go back in time what year would you choose?
1990 was a great year as the music was good, I’d just bought my first car, I had money for the first time ever, it was the year I met my wife Jenny (that should get me Brownie points) and Leeds United were top of the league.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love music and although I’m probably getting too old for it now, we attend Glastonbury Festival every year. Our next festival will be our 16th and we love every minute of it and have seen some of the greatest artists of all time, such as Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, James Brown, U2, Oasis, Blur, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Lionel Ritchie and The Who to name a few.

What question would you like to ask our next “30 minutes with”? 
What’s the biggest risk facing the fish and chip industry in the next five to ten years?