The current, seemingly relentless, heatwave is great news for some fish and chip shops but a challenge for others, says Nick Miller
Whilst fish and chip shops in coastal communities or holiday resorts will benefit from a boost in footfall as we enter the summer holidays, other shops may see a dip in sales as customers opt for different, lighter (or colder!) food options. The reality of the situation is that, for some customers, a trip down to their local fish and chip shop may not be the first thing on their mind when they’ve spent all day struggling in the heat. The Miller’s team has been looking at ways to maintain and drive sales over the summer.
Make the most of the great outdoors
Nothing beats cooking outdoors, so when the sun is shining, it’s a great opportunity to set up a portable grill and do something different. We’ve been raising awareness around the different types of species available to customers by creating new recipes and handing them out as free samples. We recently teamed up with the MSC to cook MSC certified pan-fried hake as part of their Keep it Wild campaign (check out more here). We regularly set up an outdoor grill to cook mussels, prawns and much more. It’s a great way to engage with customers while raising awareness around the delicious types of seafood there are out there.
If you’ve got outdoor seating, see if you can increase it. For some customers, the option to sit outside can be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing where to eat. Just be sure to check with your local council authority on the rules around consent, as a license may be required.
Steamed or grilled fish can be a fantastic addition to the menu, as a special, when the weather is hot. This means you’re providing customers with more choice, and alternative cooking methods to deep frying can also make your shop appealing to different types of customers who may be looking for a lighter, healthier option.
Most importantly, with so many talented young friers and chefs out there in the industry, adding diversity to your menu, even just for the summer, is a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. Fresh, seasonal salads and new potatoes are a fantastic accompaniment to serve alongside grilled fish, and warm salads featuring fish and shellfish continue to grow in popularity.
Some shops have great success with signature seasonings and sauces, so this could also be something to try. Be sure to promote any new additions. If you don’t have the time for extra prep, work with your suppliers to see if they have anything special on offer for the summer that you can incorporate into your menu but work with in the same way as your existing products. Our seafood baskets are really popular with customers, especially when they’re served as a sharing platter with dips and cold drinks to enjoy in the sun!
Promotions and meal deals
Smaller portion boxes are a great way to boost lunchtime trade and smaller fish portions give you another way to maximise yield from your fillets. Events are a great way to push timed promotions too. We’ve been running online competitions alongside the World Cup to make sure our customers don’t forget us in all the excitement, after all, visibility is the most important thing! We’ve seen new customers visit our Facebook page and the shop as a result of this promotion alone.
Maintain your high standards of quality
The hot weather can sometimes cause problems operationally and you may need to change your practices. During the summer, we usually cut between four or five times a day. It’s double the workload, but it’s essential to ensure we’re using fresh fish. Fish loses its protein and nutritional value the longer its stored, so optimise preservation and storage conditions by cutting efficiently when needed.
Keep an eye on your staff to make sure they’re hydrated and take breaks when they’re supposed to. And, finally, consider how your customers feel when they’re walking into the shop. Simple things such as setting up additional fans or considering the installation of air-con systems (quiet times also provide an ideal time to service older systems) can keep customers and staff happy, and protect your sales as a result.