Whether served on top of food or on the side, accompaniments such as mushy peas, tartare sauce and ketchup are a must-have menu item, giving the customer choice while driving incremental sales for your business
No fish and chips is complete without a dash, dollop or dousing of accompaniments, but what the customer reaches for is purely down to personal taste. Mushy peas, tartare sauce, ketchup, gravy or, dare we even say it, brown sauce, everyone has their favourite. So what are shops serving and how is it dished up?
At Catch in Ashford, Kent, its homemade tartare sauce has been proving popular ever since the shop opened nine years ago. Manager Kevin Hill believes it’s the freshly made on the premises credential that boosts sales, saying: “Often customers say “your homemade tartare sauce is so good”, then the next person in the queue will ask for a tartare sauce to try.”
After tartare sauce, Catch breaks from tradition with the next two most popular sides - curry sauce and mushy peas with the addition of mint sauce. Kevin adds: “99% of customers love them like this, but for those who like them straight, we always have some in the fridge ready.” Catch has also embraced changing consumer tastes by adding a sweet chilli dip, which Kevin says is going down fantastically well with both its salt and pepper squid and its new cheese bites.
Over in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire, where Fish Box resides, homemade tartare sauce is also a favourite, followed by mushy peas and, for the children, ketchup. Staff here make it a top priority to ask customers if they prefer the sides to be served on top of their food or separate. If separate is requested, sauces are served in biodegradable tubs. And to encourage sales, there’s a sign at the counter while staff are trained to ask customers at the point of purchase. Fish Box’s Zoe Fusco comments: “The customers need to be aware that they have the choice, however, our locals now request them when they come in.”
With sides gaining in popularity, Fish Box has seen more and more requests for multiple sides with fish and chips, which has lead them to customise meals. “Customising meals is becoming very important to many people, especially the younger generation and if we can help them get them their preferred taste, then we will,” adds Zoe.
Stokes goes squeezey
Quality condiment producer Stokes has launched its Tomato Ketchup, Real Mayonnaise and Brown Sauce in plastic squeezy bottles.
The new bottles squeeze out just the right amount, seal easily, last longer and can be used by little hands with far less mess. The bottles are made from PET plastic which is 100% recyclable.
Stokes Sauces 01394 462150 www.stokessauces.co.uk
At Cox’s of the Lighthouse in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, once again it’s curry sauce and mushy peas that top the bill. But unlike those before, Cox’s uses Dinaclass microwaveable curry sauce and Bachelors mushy peas. Owner Mike Cox says: “Both of these are so convenient, quick and easy for us to prepare. Yes we could make more money by doing our own, but they have a healthy profit margin and this leaves us more time to concentrate on our frying.”
While Cox’s charges extra for most sides, the cost of others are built into the price of the meal and “given away”, a gesture that Mike feels goes a long way. He adds: “If someone is having halloumi, for example, they are offered a choice of mayo, garlic mayo or sweet chilli and anyone having scampi or seafood baskets get a sachet of tartare sauce. As well as this, we give a wedge of lemon with any fish. It doesn’t cost a lot but it’s really appreciated and these little things separate us from our competition.”
At Shap Chippy in Cumbria, it’s not only what the shop sells, but how it prepares and serves it that’s taken into consideration. When it comes to making tartare sauce, a recipe sheet on the wall ensures all staff can make it - and to the same consistency. It’s also switched from sachets of sauce to potting up tomato ketchup, mayo and brown sauce in 2oz pots. Owner Matt Philips comments: “It’s much more profitable than buying sachets and a pot is easier for our customers to dip their chips in. Since changing takeaway sauces this way, sales have increased on this by 40%.”
As well as providing the finishing touch to a customer’s fish and chips, condiments play a much bigger role in the business, with Matt concluding: “Being VAT registered it’s really important to know what is and isn’t VATable. Adding on sauces helps balance out some of the 20% as these are not a VAT product. It also helps increase the customer’s average spend. As an industry, I feel we are still under-priced for the amount of work and effort we put in, even before considering the cost price of fish and potatoes at the moment. So if there is a way of increasing the customer spend and helping to balance that out, we are all for it.”
Mayo with a mighty kick
Spice up your chips, ramp up your burgers and perk up your salads with the new hot and spicy Encona Mayos from Funnybones Foodservice.
Thai Sweet Chilli Mayo has the sweetness of Sweet Chilli Sauce, the creaminess of traditional mayonnaise and a gentle kick of chilli, while Carolina Reaper Chilli Mayo offers a smoky, fiery flavour using one of the hottest peppers around. Available in 6x285g top-down squeezy packs.
Funnybones Foodservice 01707 321321 www.funnybones.co.uk