Yorkshire-style chippies that set new trends

FIFTY years ago, a Yorkshireman decided to introduce the sort of fish and chips served up in “God’s Own County” to the South East.

Alan Rhodes succeeded, achieving his vision of creating a chain of chippies purveying tasty food in the style of his home county.

Superfish in Old Woking Road, West Byfleet, with its Jane’s Upstairs licensed restaurant on the first floor

He founded Superfish, which opened its first shop at Isleworth in 1971 and seven more branches over the next 11 years. To make it a success, he worked more than 100 hours a week, seven days a week.

Today, the chain includes a popular takeaway and restaurant in Old Woking Road, West Byfleet, with branches also at Cheam, East Molesey, Morden, Tolworth, Ewell and Ashtead.

In the 1970s, most people rarely ate out, so Alan introduced small, basic restaurants alongside his traditional chip shops to encourage customers to try his traditional fare.

Superfish continued to innovate and modernise as eating out became more popular. It abandoned Formica-topped tables, stools and plastic salt and pepper pots. Table cloths and comfortable chairs were introduced, along with a menu featuring a wider choice of fish, desserts and a wine list.

The West Byfleet branch was opened in 1986 and later that year launched its 30-seat Jane’s Upstairs restaurant on the first floor.

“It brought a new concept to fish and chips,” said the current managing director, Alan’s son Michael. “It was fully carpeted and air conditioned. It served starters, home-made desserts and had a choice of fried or grilled fish.”

Alan died around 30 years ago and Superfish continued to be run by his children, Michael, Sally, Jane and Nigel. Jane runs the West Byfleet restaurant – where their mother, Betty, 88 still helps out three days a week.

As with other restaurant and takeaway businesses, trading has been tough for Superfish during the pandemic. Its branches were closed for the first lockdown and Jane’s Upstairs was able to open for a short period as restrictions eased, having been adapted to follow strict COVID-19 precautions.

The takeaway menu is now fully available despite the current lockdown and Superfish has innovated further by enabling customers to order and pay for their meals on its website.

“It means people can collect their food at a time of their choice and the risk of social distancing being breached as people wait for their orders has been much reduced,” said Michael. “We, of course, follow the rules for walk-in customers, who are still very much welcomed.”

* To find out more about Superfish, visit www.superfishuk.co.uk.

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