When Bruce Dimelow and daughter Heather Dennis took over the well-managed Whiddon Valley Fryer in Barnstaple, North Devon, almost ten years ago they knew they had their work cut out to improve it.
Setting themselves the task of using locally and sustainably sourced produce, packaging that is certified biodegradable as well as cooking all food fresh to order, they also embraced social media as well as added two mobile vans to the business, which visit villages mid-week and cater for weddings, parties and festivals at the weekends. Trade has since increased by an impressive 20%.
As business has grown, the takeaway’s original three pan range - now 32 years old - was struggling to keep up, which meant queues were becoming a common sight, as were repair bills. Bruce decided it was time to replace it altogether, purchasing a larger four pan Henry Nuttall counter range, and switch over to blanching.
Bruce comments: “What we’ve found in the last six weeks is, firstly, we’re 25-30% busier because we've done a whole load of work in the shop and, secondly, the range is so much easier to work. The staff are coming back to me and saying we’ve been quiet tonight but when I go and look at the till it’s way up on what it was six weeks ago!
“It’s because the food is coming out a lot quicker, and the blanching process is really helping us with that as we have the chips all ready prepared so there are no more than two minutes from when the customer walks in the door. And we still cook our cod to order, so the most is three or four minutes and the customer is gone.”
The range is complemented by sleek curved glass display cabinets, a front panel with the shop’s logo laser cut and lit up, plus a bespoke snack pan and built-in filtration. Bruce adds: “We’ve never had a bespoke snack pan, the pans were used for a bit of everything before. Now, the fish and the chips have their own dedicated pan while everything else, like the sausages, fishcakes and nuggets, go in the snack pan. It’s a better way of working. The built-in filtration is really useful too as we find it’s easier now to move oil from pan to pan and also keep it in a good condition.”
With Bruce seeing what was happening in the shop, he started talks with Henry Nuttall early on, which meant he not only got the range he wanted but when he wanted it too. He comments: “We knew we wanted to close immediately after Christmas, as that’s when we go quiet, and we knew we wanted to open five weeks later. Henry Nuttall has been excellent to work with and ensured that’s exactly what happened.”
With the team more than happy with the range and the new way of frying, Bruce feels privileged to be in the position he is, adding: “At the moment, people are uncertain about what’s going on with the economy and they are not spending money on discretionary purchases such as fish and chips and takeaway goods, which is making the environment quite challenging to work in, but for us to be making money and gaining business in that environment is a strong thing.”
Henry Nuttall 01909 560 808 www.henrynuttall.co.uk