If you’re new to the fish and chip industry there may be few things that you may surprise you about the trade: the amount of hours involved, how passionate people are about fish and chips or how differently people cook but for Kevin Henderson it was how much he enjoys it: ‘I’ve been involved in other industries before but never thought I would love frying fish and chips!’
Along with well-known North East chef Simon Walsh and estate agent Alistair Sundin, Kevin, who also runs an engineering firm, is behind Longsands Fish Kitchen in Tynemouth which has been making waves in the North East food scene since opening at the beginning of the summer season. ‘It’s been absolutely mental here; in a good way! We’re twice as busy as we expected and we’re getting amazing feedback from our customers.’
The takeaway and restaurant is in a prime location in Tynemouth: on the busy main street with the castle on one end next to the sea, the restaurant is ideally situated and naturally generated lots of interest from passers-by before they opened, giving them ready made customers when they finally opened.
There was, however, a downside to their location: the site, which used to be a bakery, is in a heritage site and they had to wait 18 months for planning to go through. ‘We encountered lots of problems with the planning along the way but we fought for it and it was worth it in the end.’
Apart from location, another massive draw is of course the quality of the food and word is fast spreading on how good it is: ‘Although we haven’t done any PR, we are on social media and the response has been phenomenal.’ They’re getting a real positive reaction about their food, not just for their seafood restaurant but also their takeaway, fitted with a 4 HE pan Florigo island range. ‘One of our biggest sellers in the takeaway is our Fish Finger Sandwich: they fly out the door!’
Being new to the industry has meant various learning curves: ‘we had 3 days practice running of the site with our family as guinea pigs and then opened on a Friday so it was a large learning curve to say the least! We felt like the whole world had come into the shop! We ran out of space on the tab holder so orders were being shouted over!’ Fast forward 2 months and they’ve definitely found their feet: ‘last Friday we were as busy as that first Friday but it was a far calmer and controlled environment!’
Whilst they may be new to the industry, their choices have proved to be popular and have received fantastic feedback for their restaurant as well as their takeaway. ‘We’ve learnt that consistency is key so we’ve kept a simple base product and are very particular about our product and where it comes from. Originally we chose to fry in beef dripping to keep that traditional fish and chips feel but we found that some people aren’t keen on it and it can alienate certain groups of people so we now fry in vegetable oil.
‘Although we’re new to the industry we’re already very passionate about it; we take it seriously and we want to give our customers a really good product,’ so if you’re in the area, pay them a visit! www.longsandsfishkitchen.com