Fish and chip shop innovation

2019 is turning out to be quite the year for the Elite Fish and Chip Company; it became the only business to be featured in The Book of Amazing People, its Sleaford restaurant became one of the first in Lincolnshire to be presented with the Healthier Options Award – and most recently, the family-run firm clinched two regional East Midlands Business awards.

In 2018, the Elite Fish and Chip Company celebrated 30 years in business in Lincolnshire and during its 30-year history the company has expanded to three restaurants and takeaways, serving a village, town and city as part of its daily operations. In that time, it has also welcomed a third generation of family members to the business and has become a national award-winning fish and chip establishment.

The company remains traditional and people-centric in all that it does, and the firm’s numerous award wins are testament to its success. However, third-generation fish fryer and family member Rachel Tweedale tells us that the road to success hasn’t been without its challenges and innovation has always been at the forefront of the company’s objectives…

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Fish and chips was one of the foods not subject to rationing during the Second World War and so it should come as no surprise that it was once regarded as the nation’s favourite dish and has very much remained a part of British culture.

It’s not been easy running a family business with such a legacy handed down from two generations before me, but every family member has brought something different to the table – whether that be focusing on a valued customer experience or innovating the menu with alternative ideas. Nowadays the fish and chip industry is incredibly competitive but as a business with firmly rooted traditional values and three decades of experience behind us, we’ve learnt to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Fish and chips is a simple, traditional dish enjoyed by many – and although it hasn’t been easy, we’ve always tried to be innovative and maximise opportunities. For example, at Easter we add our battered Cadbury’s Crème Egg and ice cream dish to our menu – it’s gone down a treat with chocolate lovers for the past few years.

At Christmas we offer battered mince pies and just last year we trialled battered pigs in blankets using locally sourced sausages – these were also a hit. Our battered mince pies have now made a name for themselves, so much so that our customers get in touch with us in the run-up to Christmas to see if they’ll be on our menu. During the festive period we also offer a two and three-course speciality menu which gives our customers the opportunity to enjoy the variety of options we offer including smoked salmon and non-fish dishes.  

Supporting the local community has always been one of our priorities – this includes listening to the needs of our customers and adapting the menu to suit. The Elite identified that an older generation tend to visit mid-week and prefer a lighter alternative; we introduced our Lite-Bite option which features a lighter batter and is a popular choice for OAPs.

This month, we were absolutely honoured to be recognised for our community work at the East Midlands FSB Awards; we clinched the Community Business of the Year award (area only) and the Family Business of the Year award for the second year running. The award wins add to an already successful 2019 and hopefully they’re a sign of what’s to come.

Last year the company celebrated 30 years in business in Lincolnshire and has rightly become an institution in the county, fostering a feeling of inclusivity for its staff and customers alike while continuing to drive growth as a forward-thinking and diverse business.

The Tweedale family has been in the fish and chip business for 46 years; their journey has taken them through the highs and lows of business but through the challenges and rewards, they have grown closer as a family and look eagerly to the future. Every year the family continues to innovate and try new things, constantly investing in staff, marketing and assets. The Elite proudly focuses on tradition but introducing new ideas has proven to be key in its success.

By Rachel Tweedale, third-generation family member and co-director of the Elite Fish & Chip Company

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