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Starting a Fish & Chips Restaurant

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A dish that originated in England over a century ago, fish and chips has gained worldwide popularity. This makes it ideal for opening a restaurant featuring this dish. The dish is a white fish like haddock or cod, battered and then fried. It is usually accompanied by thick-cut potato fries, which British people shake vinegar over. This sort of restaurant has relatively low start-up costs because it needs little equipment and is usually a casual restaurant.

Get the Fryer Started

Decide on a concept. You know you want to serve fish and chips, but how? Do you want an utterly traditional restaurant? A healthier twist with salmon and baked chips? It may be a good idea to serve a few other types of simple food, too. Not everyone likes fish. Decide whether you want it to be an upscale place or a down-home fish and chips shop.

Write a business plan. Explain in concise language exactly how your restaurant will offer a new and exciting service or fill a need in the location you have chosen. Detail how much money you will need to start up the business, from renting a space to buying equipment to paying staff. Account for operating at a loss for a reasonable amount of time. For example you will need to find out how much industrial deep frying equipment—indispensable for fish and chips—costs.

Gather funds. Count up how much money you have to invest in the project and then compare this to your business plan. Raise the difference by asking family and friends for loans or grants and contacting banks to see if you can get favorable terms for a loan.

Choose a location. Real estate is key for restaurants. Traditional places for fish and chips shops are waterfronts, but use your imagination. If you do open a restaurant on the beach keep in mind you won't need as much space for seating because people will take the food back down to the beach. Consider opening a fish and chips shop in a big city like New York or San Francisco, where there is enough demand for restaurants that one with a narrow focus like fish and chips may do well.

Hire your staff. Taste test the chefs' versions of your main dish. Hire waiters carefully as they will interact most with the clientele. Find vendors with the freshest and tastiest fish. Often, that will mean Canadian or New England vendors who will ship to you directly.

Contact your local health inspector to receive a food handlers license. These are relatively inexpensive—about $10 to $100—but it is illegal to operate without one.


Rebecca Jenkins has contributed to newspapers and blogs since 2004. She has written for numerous publications, including her college newspaper and the "San Francisco Chronicle." Her work has also appeared on various websites. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Dublin and has done master's work in political science.