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Carron Fish Bar

Refurbishing Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Aberdeen, was incredibly scary for owner Murray Watson, but it has given a new lease of life to the shop and to staff during what has been a tough few years

We bought Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven 10 years ago in March and although we changed the range after about three years, we didn’t touch the shop. With business growing in that time and then having to adapt to Covid, we thought a refit would not only help increase capacity but, should lockdowns and restrictions come in again, we would have everything in place so it’s well managed.

It’s certainly been stressful because of the fear of the unknown. You do a refit to try and improve your business but you’re constantly afraid that you’ll do everything and not get any benefit from it. Plus it’s a scary time to be making such a big investment when restrictions might be come back in, but we had to keep in mind the benefits and I’m pleased to say it’s complete and it’s given us a new lease of life after the last two years of what’s just been nothing but worries.

As well as now having the capability to serve more people, the refit has allowed us to tap into different markets because we can now serve vegan and gluten free food. And hopefully, when the summer season comes back around and there are more tourists – not just from staycations but from abroad – we will be able to serve that capacity a lot easier too.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned during this process is time management. You think it’s going to work A,B,C,D but it doesn’t. You go from A to B then to Z then to R, you keep jumping back and forth, so you have to be patient and understand that things don’t always go to plan when there’s so much going on, and that means preparing to be closed for a length of time and taking that hit.

I would recommend anyone thinking about a refit do site visits and speak to other people that have done the same. We spoke to quite a few people and gained some valuable information that saved us from making mistakes. If possible, trust a shopfitter to do it for you. Having done ones ourselves in the past, I found shopfitters give you a great perspective and also have the knowledge and skill set to adapt and overcome the obstacles that can sometimes appear out of nowhere. And, if you can, get your shopfitters and your range fitters to meet up so they both understand each other.  

We’re now open and, I have to say, when we started 10 years ago, we never thought we’d have a shop that looks the way it does, it’s phenomenal. It’s going to give us opportunities we never could have imagined and we’ve got a shop that will stand the test of time and that represents not only our staff but our food as well. It really helps us represent fish and chips in a great way.

One day, Covid and its variants will stop being such a pain in the backside and we’ll be able to show the world we survived and thrived rather than sat there scared to do anything new. We want to push our shop, our town and industry forward and our refit is enabling us to do that. 

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