Why town chippy is fry­ing high

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page -

ONE of the great joys in writ­ing this col­umn is the op­por­tu­nity it gives to men­tion the many great in­de­pen­dents that make South­port the town that it is.

We’ve fea­tured many of them over the past months, all of whom share the pride and pas­sion that we have for our town.

Here’s an­other one. Fish and chip sales from our lo­cal restau­rants went through the roof last month.

And it’s a fair bet that many of them were sold through the multi-award-win­ning Dol­phin Res­tau­rant on Scaris­brick Av­enue.

The res­tau­rant orig­i­nally opened in 1957, with owner Robert Han­d­ley tak­ing over in 1982. It’s since been ex­tended with the pur­chase of two ad­ja­cent shop, re­sult­ing in a mod­ern 140-seat res­tau­rant sell­ing a wide va­ri­ety of food from an ex­ten­sive menu.

The Han­d­ley fam­ily have been in the fish and chip busi­ness since the late 1950s, hav­ing owned or man­aged restau­rants in Black­pool, the Isle of Man, and five in South­port.

Robert, him­self, has only ever known the res­tau­rant busi­ness, say­ing that he was prac­ti­cally born un­der a range cooker. And he’s pas­sion­ate about the town hav­ing lived here most of his life.

It’s a proper sea­side town, he says, with all the ad­van­tages that brings in terms of visi­tor num­bers.

With more awards than you could shake a stick (or should that be “chip”) at – in­clud­ing nine-times win­ner of the Seafood Award, run­ner-up Fam­ily Busi­ness of the Year, voted one of the top 10 friendli­est Fish Restau­rants in the UK and mak­ing it onto the In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day’s top 100 fish and chip shops across the coun­try – it’s great to see he’s do­ing so well.

The news that House of Fraser is look­ing to close 31 of its 59 its stores (in­clud­ing its flag­ship on Lon­don’s Ox­ford Street) is a fur­ther re­minder (as if we need re­mind­ing) that the na­ture of re­tail is chang­ing rapidly.

Last year, more than £1 in ev­ery £6 of re­tail spend was made via smart­phones and tablets last year. While that clearly helps on­line-only re­tail­ers, it’s re­sult­ing in large empty swaths of phys­i­cal re­tail space. Fill­ing that space is a huge chal­lenge and not one that BIDs and lo­cal author­i­ties can do by them­selves.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Housing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee’s en­quiry into High Streets will come up with rec­om­men­da­tions when it re­ports later this year.

Our mem­ber­ship body, Bri­tish BIDs, will have a key role in sub­mit­ting ev­i­dence to that en­quiry.

The Dol­phin Res­tau­rant, in Scaris­brick Av­enue, with em­ploy­ees Zayneb Jab­bar (left) and Jean Kennedy (right) with owner Robert Han­d­ley (middle)

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