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Now she’s heading up her family’s brand-new restaurant, Fish & Chips at the Flyover.
And just over one month in, business is going great.
“It’s been really good. We’ve already got our regulars and had loads of five-star reviews,” says Emily, 26, from Wavertree.
“I’m not sure if it will be the first of many, but that’s always a possibility. For now though we’ll concentrate on making sure this is the perfect place (or plaice?) for great food.”
It might seem unlikely – even foolhardy – to start a new business in the middle of a crisis, when there’s so much uncertainty caused by the pandemic but, in many ways, that was why it began.
“My dad is in business and came across the shop in Queens Drive near The Rocket, with the idea of bringing it back to its former glory, and selling it or finding a tenant,” explains Emily. “But when the virus hit and, then, lockdown, we didn’t think that was going to be possible, at least not for a while.
“I’d had a career front of house in hotels and, while I loved my job, I’d always harboured the idea of doing something different, having my own business and making money for me instead of someone else.
“This used to be a fish and chip shop but it had been empty for a while, so we thought why not start it up again. It was just a sudden thought at first, but we looked into it and became really excited about the prospect of setting it up and making a real success of it, to build a business.”
‘We’ is Emily; mum and dad, Gill – a former teacher – and Andy Chittenden, and Emily’s husband, Takis.
From March the family concentrated on gutting the old shop and refurbishing it, including installing new equipment.
“When it got to the stage where we were opening it in a few weeks, and we didn’t have experience of cooking fish and chips other than in our own homes, we needed a bit of help,” admits Emily, who will be running things. “We were lucky that the company we’d bought the frying equipment from had their own chippy in Middleton and so they were really kind and gave us some lessons and answered a million questions.
“We had food and hygiene training too, and we took on five new staff who all have experience in the food and beverage industry – including a chef who’s young and up-and-coming and really talented.
“It was great to be able to give people opportunities, especially at a time when some people are losing jobs – and our youngest staff member is 16 and had been looking for a job for a while. She’s amazing and really keen.”
Initially, Emily admits, the aim of the business was to make money. “It has to be,” she says.
But then they sat around thinking what they wanted their business to be and, as well as successful, they wanted it to be different too.
“It was about all the impacts we could have,” she explains. “We are all passionate about being eco and environmentally friendly, so we decided straight away that we wouldn’t use plastic forks and plastic packaging, so we will stay away from using non-recyclable products like polystyrene and cling-film and our forks will be wooden.
“We are selling pies that are made locally, fish that is caught in a sustainable way and using potatoes grown nearby. We’d like more companies to contact us so that we can build relationships with other businesses in our community and source as much produce locally as possible.”
Fish & Chips at the Flyover will serve Liverpool favourites like salt and pepper chicken and chips, but as well as a traditional menu ‘focusing on our national dish’, there will be specials each week – last week it was halloumi fries – which will expand in time.
Emily says: “The row of shops we are on is fab. There is something for everyone and it was great to be able to add to an already good selection of businesses.
“We are all just really excited about giving this a go, and people have shown throughout lockdown and the pandemic takeaways are a good alternative to restaurants, especially when you’re not able to eat out. We all deserve a treat.
“There are so many great fish and chip shops in Liverpool and we hope we can be among them.”
As for sampling the food they serve, Emily she says she’s always loved fish and chips and hasn’t tired of them yet: “Although it’s not great for my waistline,” she smiles.
“We tried and tested so many chippies before we started, and I’m still loving them now. Maybe I need to go to the gym on my way in to work and burn off a few calories.”
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