Robert comments: “It was a little bit of a stretch and, to be fair, up to covid we were relying on a busy summer to start clearing off a little bit of debt but as we were trialling a delivery service a couple of weeks before lockdown we didn’t shut at all. We closed for a day, put the staff on furlough and me and the family did non-contact deliveries for three to four weeks as well as click and collect until takeaways were allowed again.
“We quite enjoyed the click and collect and delivery as it was almost like setting up a new business for us. We got to see different people, we had little old ladies phoning up and we never used to charge them half the time. It made us all feel good to do something for the community as a lot of people couldn’t go out. We really made an effort for those people on their own.
“For a good three weeks we were the only takeaway open in Brixham, there were no Chinese, no other fish and chip shops, nothing.”
When restaurants were given the green light to reopen, Robert launched without bookings, instead offering a rolling service from 12-9pm. “It’s the best thing we did,” he says. “We probably served just as many, if not more people that way. With bookings you’ve always got that table sat there idle, haven’t you? The town was so busy you couldn’t get a table anywhere so customers seemed happy with it. They waited outside and within 10-15 minutes we got them seated. I think we’ve ended up having the busiest summer we’ve ever had.”
Simply Fish is an ambassador of locally sourced, seasonal produce and if it sells 50% cod, it sells 50% plaice, haddock and hake, as well as shellfish, such as lobsters, crabs and oysters, all landed by local day boats coming and going from the harbour just outside the door.
While covid didn’t upset that supply – all but one or two boats continued to go out – a surplus of fish flipped prices on their head.
“When there were no pubs and restaurants open, all the expensive fish that they would buy, like turbot, Dover sole and monkfish, became cheap fish and, because the retail sector really pulled its finger out and was selling cod, lemon sole and haddock to Mrs Jones at home, that fish was in big demand so became expensive.”