Mild weather combined with the long-held tradition of eating fish on Good Friday bolstered sales for most chippies at the weekend with many reporting their busiest Good Friday ever while others went as far as saying it was their busiest day of trading to date.
The UK’s number one fish and chip takeaway, Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Plymouth, Devon, pulled in its best Good Friday in four years of trading. Potato preparation and fish cutting began at around 7am, while 12 staff were drafted in and the additional three pan range installed in December paid off as all eight pans were used to keep queuing time to a minimum.
Owner Craig Maw comments: “With an average turnaround of 10-12 minutes all our food is cooked fresh to order. So although we had queues out of the door all evening on Good Friday, we were able to turn people around reasonably quickly.”
The takeaway also coped with the surge in trade with a queue buster tablet linked to the till. This enabled staff to walk the queue, pre-order and start cooking for customers before they have arrived at the till.
It was a theme which followed all weekend with the takeaway open not just on the Saturday but also Easter Sunday and bank holiday Monday. Craig comments: “We feel it is important for our customers to know where they stand with regards our opening hours, so we don’t tend to mess around with them. Our opening hours for the Easter bank holiday weekend were exactly the same as our normal operating hours.”
Kingfisher even welcomed a customer all the way from Denmark. Craig adds: “On 1st of March, we received an e-mail form a gentleman in Denmark who wanted to visit us during the Easter break and wondered if we were open. We duly responded to the e-mail and didn’t think much about it, until Oscar Levcovich turned up in our shop for fish and chips — amazing!”
Simpsons Fish & Chips in Cheltenham, meanwhile, reported its busiest day on record, beating last year’s Good Friday. Serving well over 1,000 portions of fish and chips, another popular menu item proved to be its battered Cadbury’s Cream Eggs, with over 400 sold during the Easter period.
Co-owner James Ritchie, comments: “We actually hired a babysitter so that both Bonny and myself could work and that’s unheard of! We were in early prepping more fish and more potatoes and it was a constant, steady flow all day rather than getting quiet then busy periods. We got in lots of staff and it was fun, we were prepared for it and it ran smoothly.”
While The Parade Fish Bar in Crayford, Kent, experienced a quieter than normal start to Good Friday, trade picked up in the evening, as owner Sukh Dhothar comments: “Trade was slightly quieter at lunchtime, but we made up for it in the evening, plus some. We definitely sold a lot more fish than we normally do on a Friday. I have a three pan range and at times I was using two pans for fish and one for chips just to keep up.
“Fridays are still the busiest day of the week for us and this was the busiest Friday for us so far this year. People know they can come to us and get quality fish and chips and consistency every time.”
Meanwhile at Eric’s Fish and Chips in Thornham, Norfolk, even rain on Good Friday couldn’t dampen spirits during this traditional fish-eating occasion with over 900 covers served across the takeaway and restaurant. Its beer battered fish and chips cooked in beef dripping had customers queuing all day with manager Craig Blythe, commenting: “We expected to be busy as we were really busy last year, so we got prepped up early and got extra staff in. We had queues pretty much all day. At one point we had 38 people waiting for tables, it was just rammed. It was a great atmosphere and it continued all weekend.”
Asked what it is that draws customers to Eric’s, Craig comments: “It’s the quality and the effort we put into our fish and chips and that fact that all the produce we use is top notch. Our customers appreciate that and that’s why they come to us.”
As well as recording its busiest ever Good Friday, Towngate Fisheries in Idle, Bradford, also pulled in a record bank holiday Monday with sales up around 30% on a normal Monday.
Owner Mark Drummond says it’s taken a while for customers to recognise that the shop is open on bank holidays, but believes it's now finally paying off, adding. “About 10 years ago, I started opening on bank holiday Mondays and it was only about four to five years ago that sales started to reach an average Monday, while it’s only been the last couple of years that they have started to exceed an average Monday. It’s surprising how long it can take for new opening hours to get recognised and, in fact, it can take several years for a new opening to reach its potential.”