It takes a lot for John Xenofontos to switch suppliers and as a result, he’s used the same products in his shop, Fish Bits in Doncaster, for decades. His batter, for example, has been Middleton’s King’s Batter Mix for over 35 years now.
Buying what he says are the best ingredients, John believes that now especially it’s even more important to stick with tried and tested, high quality ingredients. But when he was presented with a sample of Middleton’s new Langton’s Traditional Gravy, he was so impressed with the rich flavour, texture and consistency that he felt he had to make the switch.
“I was really happy with the gravy I was using before,” says John. ” As I said, my shop is all about quality, we only buy the best ingredients. But when I tried a sample of Langton’s Traditional Gravy, it cooked as good as the gravy I was using before, it stood just as well and it tasted just as good – and it was a little bit cheaper too!
“It’s a proper sauce, it’s not watered down, it’s nice and thick and gooey. You dunk your chips in gravy and you have a nice thick layer of sauce on them – like the chocolate on an eclair.”
Naturally vegetarian and vegan, the gravy ticks these boxes too, helping John cater for the growing number of customers with dietary requirements.
Making gravy fresh every day, John likes the simplicity of Langton’s Gravy, cooking it on the stove using a pan of hot water, stirring it every once in a while as it simmers and cooks, before transferring it over to a bain-marie for holding.
John comments: “I’m a shop that doesn’t mind chucking things away. I say to my staff, if you wouldn’t eat it yourself then you don’t charge for it. I can’t give a consumer something that’s not as good as it was and still charge good money for it.”
Luckily that’s never been an issue with Langton’s Gravy as it’s so popular – a tub and half goes each week – Fish Bits tends to sell out before it becomes a problem. If more needs to be made up, it takes just a few minutes for John to quickly cook up an extra batch.
While customers currently have the choice of a 4oz and 7oz portion, John is shortly moving over to a standard 6oz size, which will be served in a branded paper pot. “Having the one size will make it more efficient and quicker for the staff and the customer,” he explains.
Fish Bits sells a portion of gravy on its own for £1.30 but also bundles it into a lunchtime meal deal with fish, chips, mushy peas and either a sausage or a fish cake for the bargain price of just £4.90. “We’re renowned for our lunchtime specials,” John says.
For anyone looking to drive their gravy sales, John has a tip he’s willing to share: “Offer it free of charge to start with. That’s what I did, I said to customers just taste it and tell me what you think. You’ll be surprised how people react to having fish, chips and mushy peas with just a smothering of gravy on the top.”
Middleton Foods 01902 608122 www.middletonfoods.com