One of three shops in the final of Best Newcomer of the Year at this year’s National Fish & Chip Awards, Hendo’s in Bury St Edmunds believes it has what it takes to win
Two years ago, Giles Henderson was running a clothes business. Now he’s frying fish and chips seven days a week at his takeaway and restaurant in beautiful Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and he’s enjoying every minute.
Aspiring to be the best in the busy market town, Hendo’s has gone to great lengths to produce the perfect triple-cooked chips, it fries everything to order and a majority of its menu is homemade, including its batter, curry sauce and minted mushy peas. While it’s details like these that no doubt caught the eye of the judges, it was Giles’ desire to move the business forward that drove him to enter the Best Newcomer award.
“I get told in the shop we are doing a great job, the customers like what we do and we’re getting great feedback, but then you think, it would be interesting to see what the experts make of us,” says Giles. “More than anything, I’ve got a willingness to learn, adapt and improve and I thought having people that have been in the industry a long time judge me would be a massive benefit.
“I’ve learnt so much from being in the competition; it keeps you on your toes as I’m constantly thinking the judges could be in at any moment. You’ve got to keep that quality up all the time.”
Increase in new customers
Making it to the final has brought a few surprises, an increase in new customers being one. “I never really realised the impact it had when people read that you’re in the finals of an award. They genuinely want to come and see us. I didn’t enter the award to boost my business, but it’s definitely had an impact, which is important for a new business still building its trade.”
The shortlist has come at a perfect time for the fledging business which has faced a raft of price increases since day one. “I look at the fish and oil prices now compared to what they were when I did my business plan and the difference is huge,” explains Giles. “But you’ve got to keep going and the competition certainly helps with that.”