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New year, new plans

His year as Drywite Young Fish Frier maybe almost up but George Papadamou isn’t planning to slow down as he announces plans to open two new Papa’s in 2018

We ended last year on a real high by opening Papa’s Willerby on Christmas Day to serve the homeless and needy in Hull. The turn out was really good and, as with these situations, we took away much more than we gave. We’re hoping, if all goes well, to do it annually and make it part of the Papa’s calendar.

Unfortunately this was followed by a very sad start to the year with the news that Briar Wilkinson passed away. Briar touched us all and was so influential. As busy as she was, she always took the time to make sure you knew she was there. She will be deeply missed but her legacy lives on within Drywite, the industry and the Young Fish Frier competition, which she herself launched.

I’ve always said that the Drywite Young Fish Frier competition is unique in that, unlike other awards where if you don’t win, you can feel a bit deflated, this one makes you instantly want to enter again. I remember the first time I entered, I couldn’t believe I got to chat to all the amazing people at the awards. The emphasis is very much on bringing people together.

I’ve tried to do as much as I possibly could this last year and even now I feel like it’s gone too quickly. I wish in a way I didn’t have to work in that year as there were just so many opportunities available to me. When I look back at the year it’s really difficult to pick out a highlight - we’ve opened two restaurants and sent our fish and chips into space to mention just two - but, undeniably, I couldn’t have done half of what I did without having won this award and the platform it provided.

This has also set Papa's up for a great start to 2018 with plans to open a restaurant in Hull city centre in March. It’s a derelict building on the marina but it’s going to be a 150 seater, which is quite small by our standards! It will be a different experience for me and Dino, but for my dad it’s a return to what he’s used to, having run city centre shops for some 30 years.

We’re also opening a takeaway, hopefully in September, on a retail park in Hull. It’s next to McDonald’s, KFC and Chiquitos. At the moment it’s baron wasteland so this really will be a new experience for us as we’re used to going in and adapting a building whereas this one will be to our specifications. We’re really looking forward to this as it should be a great addition.

Before I pass my trophy over to the next young fish frier, I would like to thank Nicky Lewis at Drywite who has been an absolutely amazing mentor and friend. She will do an amazing job taking the competition forward. I would also like to thank Nikki Hawkins at Seafish. It was fantastic firstly to have the opportunity to go to Norway courtesy of Norwegian Seafood Council and Seafish but while I was there it became clear very quickly to me that Nikki lives and breathes the awards. In fact, I think we should all be extremely grateful for the time, effort and money that goes into making the awards possible.

And, finally, I would like to thank my dad and my brothers, Dino and Andrew. While I’ve been galavanting about they have been stood in the restaurant covering my shifts so I think it’s payback time once I’ve handed the trophy over! Speaking of which, I would like to wish my successor all the best of luck and just say make sure you have great support around you as you’re going to be busy!

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