Expert Eye: Geoff Whitehead, Whiteheads Fish & Chips, Hornsea, East Yorkshire

Home » Interviews » Expert Eye: Geoff Whitehead, Whiteheads Fish & Chips, Hornsea, East Yorkshire

With his time as winner of Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year nearly over, Geoff reflects on the last 12 months and admits he will be reluctant to relinquish the trophy 

I cannot tell you how fast my winning year has gone. I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had a chance to bring my head above water to realise just what we’ve achieved.

Trade is up 30%, which is fantastic, we’ve just reopened after a mini refurb where I’ve spent a quarter of a million pounds to take the shop to the next level, and I’ve not stopped going all over the place, visiting suppliers and operators. 

That’s one thing I’ve loved: getting out there and mingling with the industry which, had I not won Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do to the level I have. It’s struck me how many like-minded people there are who want the same as I do, which is to improve my premises and the standard of the food and raise the standards within the industry as a whole. I’ve had the opportunity to show people around my business and demonstrate what we do, but I’ve also learnt so much from those people too and it just goes to show that whether you’ve been in the industry for one year, five years, 20 years or 40 years, we can all still learn something.

I’ve got to say a huge well done and thank you to my team this year who have been with me every step of the way. It’s been exhausting at times for them, I know that because we were understaffed. I thought we had enough staff but I didn’t realise how busy an additional 30% would be. We were well short and recruiting has not been easy. 

The team has had to knuckle down and get on with it and they have done an amazing job. I can’t praise them highly enough. We set the standard and they raised the bar themselves. I’ve seen the character come out in them when needed and that’s been a pleasure to witness.

Am I looking forward to handing the trophy over? No chance! I’ve loved every minute of having it and when the time comes, I can honestly say, I’m still going to be holding on to it with both hands! It’s just been an amazing experience. However, all good things come to an end and I wish the next person all the luck in the world.

My advice to the winner would be to stop and have a good look around at what you’ve achieved. Don’t let it go by without taking stock of what you’ve done. Unfortunately, I haven’t done that, not yet anyway, but that being said, I’m still on cloud nine. It’s very difficult to come down.

For me, it’s important not to rest on our laurels so I’m pressing ahead with plans to make the business more sustainable. I have applied for planning permission for five wind turbines on my roof and am waiting for a final decision. If approved, my entire restaurant will be powered for the year and it won’t cost me a penny, plus we will be cutting our carbon footprint. So yes, we’ve had a busy year, but I’m not taking my foot off the gas. If anything, I’m putting my foot further to the floor!

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