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Put yourself forward

Pete Fraser, owner of Harbour Lights in Falmouth and winner of Independent Fish & Chip Restaurant of the Year in 2017, highlights the advantages of entering The National Fish & Chip Awards

Of the 10,000-ish fish and chip shops in the UK, sadly only a very small proportion enter The National Fish & Chip Awards each year and I think that is a big pity because the rewards of just entering, never mind winning, far outweigh the little bit of effort that is required to get a credible entry together.

So, what are the rewards?

- Right, let’s start with increased revenue. You have suddenly got something to shout about. Just by entering and letting your team and loyal customers know, your shop is making positive news. Entering is great, being nominated as a finalist is brilliant and if you are lucky enough to win, it is off the scales.

- You have a crystal-clear reason to raise your game. By having to ask yourself the question: “What would the best in the UK do?” you will soon find things that yes you could do better on and the necessary improvements were made. May sound so corny but please, believe me, it is so true; the journey is just as important as the prize at the end. We are in the friendliest business in the word, hunt out previous winners of the categories that you are after winning, pick up the phone and ask them if they would be kind enough to share some top tips with you. I promise I will buy you a beer at the awards ceremony in London next January if they don’t bend over backwards to help you. That is the beautiful nature of the business we are in.

We are all very lucky.

- Your team will grow in stature.  Suddenly they are working at a chippie that has aspirations to get better, to become award-winning. Strange things happen, they may even own up to working at your establishment on Facebook!

- Finalists get the chance to go to London for the awards ceremony, a true eye-opener to the first-timers. I found it great to see and feel the size and professionalism of our industry

- All entrants, after the winners are announced, can receive feedback on their entries and mystery shopper visits. This feedback can be invaluable in moving your business on.

- The awards have longevity, the benefits of winning an award continue well past the 12 months when the next winner is announced.

What did winning best independent restaurant mean to us?

Well, firstly we had a real fun 12 months, starting off by thanking our customers and rolling back our prices to what they were when we bought the business in the year 2000.

We also had a royal visit in September. I didn’t think chippies got too many royal visits, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Every county in the UK has a Lord Lieutenant, one of their jobs is to co-ordinate visits when a member of the royal family is in their county. If you are on their radar and have presented a case why you deserve a visit, then fingers crossed you may receive a pleasant phone call like I received last August. The charming HRH Sophie Countess of Wessex was with us for over an hour and it was a wonderful occasion.

We also came up with the idea of creating the first ever International Mushy Pea Day last year, we opened our doors to classes of primary school kids and we launched our own Community Hero Awards to recognise members of our local community. All in all the whole 12 months as winner was a blast and significantly improved our revenue.

So go on, enter this year at

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