Rachel Tweedale and younger sister Lauren Walker have left the Elite Fish & Chip Company to open their own takeaway, Sisters, just outside of Lincoln in North Hykeham.
Rachel, 31 and a director, has been working for the family business for 16 years with roles across all three branches in Lincoln, Sleaford and Ruskington as well as the newest addition, Elite on the Bail, which opened in February last year in Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter. Lauren, 27, worked for the company as a teenager and returned full-time six years ago.
Rachel comments: “Lauren and I both love the Elite but we have our own ideas, thoughts, and ambitions. We’ve been so lucky to be involved in a business that had a great reputation, but it was built by my dad and his grandparents before him.
“I finished at The Elite on Saturday and, yes, I was sad - it’s been my life, it’s all I’ve ever known - but I’m also really excited. There has to come a point when you’re going into work every day, doing your job and treating it like it’s your own but realise it isn’t your own. Lauren and I were discussing it one day, purely by chance, and we said we could do this.
“Our dad is fully supportive of it and he said I think it’s fantastic you want to go and achieve something for yourselves.
“It’s exciting and we’re looking forward to being able to do something different.”
The pair pick up the keys to Manor Farm Fish & Chips, which is on a new-build housing estate, on Friday. They hope to open on Friday 30th October after a quick clean round, a reorganisation and a rebrand.
The big changes will come in the form of the menu, with the sisters wanting to put the focus back on fish and chips.
Rachel comments: “At the moment, fish is just a tiny part of the menu, it’s quite big on kebabs and things like that, so we want to change that.
“Fish and chips is what we know, it’s what we’re good at and that’s what we want to showcase. We’re going to take off kebabs, promote cod and haddock and other fish species, and run some fish specials.
“There will be space where the kebab machine was to install a fryer or grill so we have discussed the option of doing gluten free, but I think we’re also going to ask our customers what would you like to see. Do they want to see us selling fresh fish, offering gluten free or a vegan menu? We are quite open-minded about how to move it forward, it just depends what people want.”
Launching a new business in the current climate hasn’t been without its issues, in particular securing finance for the project, with Rachel adding: “It’s been stressful because at the present moment in time no one wants to lend any money. So that was tricky but, fortunately, my brother-in law-is a financial advisor and he was very persistent, he went to every lender in existence to find us the money.”
The only thing left now is for the sisters to get the takeaway open and start building the business up. Rachel adds: “It’s going to be a challenge because our experience of building a successful fish and chip shop comes from getting to know our customers. That’s difficult to do behind a screen with masks on while keeping your distance. But we’ll do our best, we’ll get to know people and hopefully make it as successful as we can do.”
The Elite Fish & Chip Company was founded in 1988 by Rachel and Lauren’s grandparents, David and Freda Tweedale.