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The real deal

In their first column for Fry Magazine, Tim and Kelly Barnes talk about the moment their takeaway, Krispies in Exmouth, was crowned champion at the 2019 National Fish & Chip Awards and what life has been like in the weeks afterwards

Tim and I started out in fish and chips when we were just 19 and 17. In the beginning, we used to work seven day weeks with no time off, pushing a business that wasn’t ours and we quickly came to realise two things. One, that we loved it and, two, this was something we wanted to do on our own.

We knew when we bought Krispies 20 years ago that the vision we had was to build a shop that generations could believe in and enjoy. Fish and chips holds such strong memories for people and we loved the thought of being part of that.

We used to spend hours reading industry magazines and going to trade shows, we were really keen to be a part of the industry and we were always talking about what it would be like to be involved in the awards. One of our earliest memories was seeing Mark Petrou at a trade show shortly after his shop, Petrou Brothers, had Fish & Chip Shop of the Year. We were totally in awe of him (and still are today). He gave us two of the best pieces of advice all those years ago – you are only as good as the last portion of fish and chips, and don’t believe your own hype! We use these sayings all the time, they are our mantra and we teach all the staff that come through our doors the same thing.

So, last month, after 20 years of hard work and dreaming, it was time to prove ourselves worthy of our Top 10 nomination. Giving the presentation to the judges was an absolute highlight. We loved it and when we came out of the room we were buzzing. It was such an honour to be able to shout about what you love and tell your peers about your business. We were limited to half an hour, we could have talked all day!

"Since the day we got home, we have seen a 38% increase in trade, which for the end of January, early February is incredible!"

The next day, Tim and I sat with eager anticipation waiting for our nominated categories to be called. First in the offing was Staff Training and Development for which we had been shortlisted. We were absolutely thrilled to win this and so proud of our staff who work so hard, are incredibly dedicated and, as much as we drive them, drive us too. They are extremely passionate about their jobs and it was a joy to win this for them.

Then came the big one - Fish & Chip Shop of the Year. Lifting the trophy and having it now sit proudly on top of our range is simply the best feeling, if slightly unreal. Did we really just do that?

The impact on the shop has been huge and we started to notice a pattern in trade even after two weeks, with lunchtimes and weekends being busier and more on a par with the summer. We normally have a steady increase in trade leading up to the summer but it's like someone has flicked a switch! I would say, since the day we got home, we have seen a 38% increase in trade, which for the end of January, early February is incredible!

Staffing levels have had to increase too but, interestingly, while finding staff can be quite difficult, we saw an increase in applicants immediately after winning.

The reaction we’ve had from customers has been incredibly and already we’ve had people travel from as far away as Manchester. It’s bonkers that people will travel that far for our fish and chips. But something inside just makes you as proud as punch to accept all the congratulations and to know that you are a respected ambassador for an industry you’ve worked in and loved for so long.


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