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Tell it how is is

A restaurateur asked by a customer to justify the price of its fish and chips did so with a response that many shop owners would have gladly penned themselves

Fish and chips is not the cheap meal it used to be, we all know that. Yet many customers still expect it to be and don’t appreciate the effort that goes into it - the ingredient costs, staff and labour costs, utility bills and business rates, to mention just a few. And after all, why would they? Unless you’re asked to justify it, how many of you tell your customers your profit margins, explain that there’s VAT included or point out the fact you put your staff through training  courses and qualifications?

Well, that’s exactly what at restaurant on the Wirral did earlier this month when a customer left a two-star Facebook review complementing the staff and food but asking for an explanation for the £8 it charged for small fish, chips and mushy peas.

The owners of The Oxton Bar and Kitchen were only too happy to oblige and, after bringing to the reviewer’s attention the fact that the government is due 20% in VAT, they pointed out that they are, in fact, left with £6.66.

The owner goes on to explain: “Out of this, we need to buy the fresh ingredients; 1 haddock fillet, get a chef to make everything from scratch; a delicious beer batter, homemade tartare sauce, mushy peas and chunky chips (the whole cost of ingredients for this plate comes to roughly £2.70).”

Stating that this leaves just £3.94, the owner, very tongue in cheek, continues to list the costs associated with cooking and serving its fish and chips, such as staff wages, utility bills and business rates, concluding with the statement: “So if £3.94 is not justifiable for creating and affording this whole experience with us, you’re welcome to recreate it in the comfort of your own home.”

It’s a spot on response and the kind of reply I’m sure many of you have wanted to give at one time or another.  Customers are sometimes naive as to what goes into preparing and serving what they see as a simple meal - even though they would gladly pay £15 for a pizza, but that’s another story!

So it’s our duty to educate the customer that this is not the case; sustainable fish, grade A potatoes, quality frying medium all come at a cost. While you don’t need to take the same stance that this restaurant did, be sure to tell your customers what you do and why. If you serve MSC cod or haddock, make  tartare sauce yourself or use biodegradable packaging, explain these all come with a premium and the reasons why either via social media, through advertising and leaflets or posters instore. 

It’s all positive stuff and, while it helps justify your prices, it also shows that fish and chips is still excellent value for money for the quality and care that goes into producing it.

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