Longsands Fish Kitchen, winner of Best Newcomer Award at this year’s National Fish & Chip Awards, has reported a 25% increase in trade since bringing home the accolade.
The takeaway and 46 cover restaurant, which opened in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear just 17 months ago, serves sustainably sourced cod and haddock alongside seasonal alternatives determined by what is landed locally each day at North Shields quayside. This means as well as classic fish and chips, customers can enjoy an array of seafood including grilled lobsters and shucked oysters, plus there's a host of homemade dishes such as shrimp burger and fish pie, and its own signature LFK sauce. On the extensive drinks menu, meanwhile, is everything from old fashioned ice cream floats and espresso to champagne and eight varieties of gin.
The brainchild of friends Simon Walsh and Kevin Henderson, the aim from the outset was always to offer something unique. Simon, who heads up the kitchen, comments: “I wanted to change fish and chips in the north east, which I know is quite a bold statement, but I didn’t want to be just another chippy on the corner.
“I wanted to create a brand that would stand out on the high street and I wanted to serve an unbelievable product in a vibrant place, so people think “how cool is that”.
He adds: “Newcastle is becoming the brand capital of the world. There's something like 21 new restaurants opening in Newcastle in the next three months in the food quarter. Fish and chips for me, if you push it like we are, can be amazing and I think we should have our own strong place on the high street.”
With its contemporary offering, Longsands is appealing to a wide variety of customers but in particular the younger generation, with Simon estimating the average age of his customers to be around 22 and 23.
“People like coming here because it’s cool - the branding, the uniforms, the way we serve the food, even the music we have playing.
“The fact that a customer can come to a fish and chip shop and have lobster and chips and the person sat next to them can have fish and chips and a platter of oysters is going down really well."
With a focus on high quality ingredients and sustainable sourcing, Simon’s keen to change the public’s perception of fish and chips, adding: “People are happy to pay £15 for an average burger, but if you start charging that for fish and chips then they think that’s expensive. But it shouldn't be like that. It’s a wild product, you’ve got the guys that catch the fish, the farmers that grow the potatoes, there’s so much that goes into getting it into a box before it’s served. It’s a huge chain and we think it’s massively undervalued and want to change that.”
Since winning the accolade, the restaurant has been fully booked every lunch and dinner, with Simon adding: “The first Sunday after the awards was like Good Friday. The publicity hit all the newspapers on the Saturday, so that was busy, but Sunday was a different scale. It’s been non-stop since and it’s pretty much been all new customers, too.”
As well as appearing on TV and radio over the past few weeks, Longsands has appeared in various food magazines with Simon soon to have a guest slot writing a column specifically on fish.
“Winning has escalated us to a new level,” he adds. “I think people can see we are setting a new standard.”