How to Start Your Own Fish and Chips Restaurant

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fish and chip shop

Brits are known for their love of fish and chips, so starting a restaurant selling the delicious meal option could be a great way to take control of your career. In this article, we take a look at why you should think about starting a fish and chips restaurant, and provide some top tips for getting going.


Most of us have devoured a comforting portion of fish and chips at some point – and many of us enjoy the dish on a weekly basis. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of demand for the traditional meal option right across the UK. Have a look at the impressive statistics below to find out why starting a fish and chips restaurant could provide a healthy income.

Why you should consider starting a fish and chips restaurant

According to the National Federation of Fish Friers, there are around 10,500 fish and chips shops in the UK. When you compare this to the 1,200 McDonald’s and 840 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets up and down the country, you can see just how popular the indulgent treat is. In fact, Brits eat 382 million fish and chips shop meals every year, spending a whopping £1.2 billion in total. And more than one in five of us visit our local chippy every week.

The fish and chips restaurant sector isn’t going anywhere, which is great news for anyone interested in joining it in the future.


Top tips for starting a fish and chips shop

Starting a fish and chips restaurant might seem simple enough, but there are a few aspects of the set-up process you should consider before you put your plan into action. Here are five key elements to think about when launching a fish and chips shop.

1. Your target market

While many fish and chips shops appear to be fairly similar, restaurants in this sector vary depending on their target market. Will you open a traditional ‘local chippy’ or a more upscale restaurant? If you’ve already chosen your ideal location, think about the type of people living in the area and the sort of restaurant they’ll be attracted to.

But regardless of your target market, you should always focus on providing high-quality food. Whatever your brand looks like, and whether you’re mostly catering to students or high-income families, you’ll keep customers coming back if you offer a great product.

2. Your location

If you decide on your target market before your location, you’ll need to pick a site in an area suited to your prospective customer base. Low-income areas tend to be more profitable for fish and chips restaurants. So, if you intend to set up your business in a more upscale area, you’ll need to make sure your products are good enough to tempt customers away from local restaurants.

During this stage, be sure to check out nearby fish and chips restaurants. You don’t want to have too much competition, but you don’t want to have no competition either. There may be a reason why no other business owner has chosen to set up in the area you're considering.

3. Your ingredients

Your food is the foundation for your business, and using low-quality ingredients will harm your success in the long-run. One key element to bear in mind is the oil you use to fry your food. Fish and chips restaurants can use rapeseed oil, palm oil and even beef dripping. Your choice will probably affect your customer base and may even have an impact on your sales.

Beef dripping is high in calories and unsuitable for vegetarians, and the use of palm oil can be incredibly damaging for the environment. For these reasons, the comparatively less calorific rapeseed oil or sustainably farmed palm oil may be better options.


4. Your team

Running a successful chippy means being available to satisfy customer cravings throughout the day and into the evening. Unless you’re very industrious, you’ll need a good team behind you. And when it comes to restaurant staff, personality is key.

You can teach your team how to batter a piece of fish to perfection but it’s important they’re also able to be helpful, happy and engaging. Hiring staff who know how to treat customers is crucial to your success.

5. Your brand identity and marketing

While you can rely on your customers to spread the word about your business to a certain extent, you may need to advertise it to increase your sales. Local newspapers, radio stations and shop windows are a great place to start.

You can use social media to promote your business too. Digital marketing is very cost effective and a quick way to reach a large audience. You don’t need to have a large marketing budget to compete against the bigger brands when it comes to social media ads, so spend time and effort on your promotional activity, and you'll reap the rewards.

A great way to catch consumers’ attention from the get-go is to choose a fun name. Fish and chips shops are no stranger to a pun, hence the many whacky names gracing businesses up and down the country. Whether you think up your own pun or go for one of the classics like Frying Scotsman, The Codfather or – controversially – Frying Nemo, you can make your new business memorable.

Take advantage of the thriving food and drink industry

As a fish and chips restaurant owner, you can enjoy year-round sales and really make a name for yourself in your local community.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the rising popularity of food you can eat on the go, why not consider trading from a mobile fish and chips van? You can move throughout the day to follow demand. Read our article on the subject to find out more about getting started.

Or, if you’d like to set up a business under a recognisable brand, take a look at our franchise investment opportunities in the food and drink industry.

>> Read more articles on the Fish And Chips sector

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