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Expert Eye: Will Burrell, Yarm Road Fish & Chips, Darlington, County Durham

Home » Interviews » Expert Eye: Will Burrell, Yarm Road Fish & Chips, Darlington, County Durham
Yarm Road Chippy

They came from nowhere to take second place in the Fish & Chip Takeaway category at this year’s National Fish & Chip Awards. Here Will talks about the changes he’s made – and continues to make – to ensure his takeaway stays profitable 

After months of fish prices, potato prices, energy prices and everything else going through the roof we are, thankfully, beginning to see things settle down now. It took us a while to get our heads around it, but I believe we have now got our price point right – and that it works for the customer and us. 

This did mean quite recently moving our prices up. We did hold off as long as possible but it came to a point where things weren’t moving and with the Minimum Wage going up, it wasn’t what we wanted to do but it was what we had to do. We’ve put our regular chips up by 20p from £2.40 to £2.60 and our regular fish has gone up from £6.50 to £6.80. It’s a 200g portion for £6.80, which we think is still value for money, and that’s the important thing; we still want to provide value for money whilst staying afloat. That’s the balance everyone has to strike. 

We’ve recently switched to a bigger grade of fish. We were using Icelandic 16-32 ounce cod but we were finding there was quite a lot of waste from it and we wanted to offer that more premium, big, white flake so we’ve moved onto the 32+ and we’ve had so much positive feedback from customers on it. And because of the nature of the fish, with it being much stronger and fitter, it’s all a really good product so there is less wastage. 

Although cutting it is more of an art form and it was a bit tricky to get our heads around at first, it’s like anything, you don’t just give up for that reason. So we’ve stuck with it and we’ve got where we need to be with it. As a result, our margins on fish have increased and we’ve got far less waste. 

We keep our menu quite traditional so although summer is just around the corner we won’t be changing anything. The main reason for having a small menu is that focus on quality. Over the years, we have added specials but we’ve found – and this won’t be the case with everybody – where we are so busy, moving on to those other specials was taking away from our core products.

Also, our turnover is quite steady, it generally only varies by about 5% week-on-week, it’s quite remarkable. We are in the suburbs of town but the area is like the new town centre, we have retail parks and shopping centres around us and the footfall never stops whether rain or shine. 

We are nearly over the line with buying what was the convenience store next door so we are hoping within the next couple of weeks to get the keys. Then we can start the building work that will see our takeaway extend to a 50-seater restaurant. I’m excited but also terrified, I just want to get it right. People have got high expectations because they have been coming to us for seven years. We hope to have the restaurant open in about three months and I’m just hoping it will be a smooth transfer from the takeaway market into the restaurant market – putting our food on a plate rather than in a box. 

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