Why town chippy is frying high
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)