AUTHOR: TOM TANNER
Eighty awards, many of them for sustainability, a fiercely loyal and growing customer base, widespread industry recognition and six successive Three Star Food Made Good Sustainability Ratings. It’s at this point that Calum Richardson, owner of The Bay Fish & Chips, when many would be resting on their laurels, decided to make a serious investment in enhancing the future of the Stonehaven chippy and the planet.
If you want to keep ahead of the game, you have to re-invest in the business every year. I’d been planning to carry out these major changes for a long time but want to ensure everything was in place.
The restaurant had done 14 years hard work and made serious money along the way, so it needed a major makeover. This is a long-term project to create a better working environment for staff, a better experience for customers and to ensure we are up to date and running as efficiently as we can.
I’ve been doing a lot of consultancy work in recent years and that means I‘ve visited loads of other chippies which has given me lots of ideas for how I could make The Bay even better and operate more sustainably.
Give inefficient fridges the cold shoulder
I was convinced that we were not operating as efficiently as we could. We had too much wasted fridge space with loads of gaps and not enough work surface. With daily deliveries we didn’t need so much traditional fridge space, so we now have under counter fridges using all the space perfectly with no gaps. This has freed up more work surface and means the energy efficient fridges are working to their full potential.
Peel the benefit of less waste
We’ve always taken great trouble to source the best potatoes and then peeled them in house. I started doing the maths to see if this was the most efficient and cost-effective method. So I contacted a local business that could source the same potatoes, peel them and deliver them every day. I worked out that we should, from a 25kg bag get about 19kg of chips but, what with human error we were only getting about 14-15kg. That’s a lot of waste. So we ran a trial for a few months, it’s worked brilliantly and now have walk-in refrigeration at the back of the shop where the daily deliveries of peeled potatoes are stored. We’re wasting less, there’s no mess and less noise. We’re also not at risk of the tatty boy not turning up for work! And the company doing the peeling uses the same starch collection process we used, and that gets fed to some local pigs.
Clean, green fryer
Apart from the refrigeration, the other big change we’ve made is new fryers. I went to Holland to see Kiremko who I’ve worked with for years. They make a lot of electric ranges for the European market and as I was going for a whole new range including one gluten free – I decided to make that one electric, which with our green energy from Good Energy is zero emissions. We’ve only had it in for a week and it’s working brilliantly. Sales in the first week from the gluten free fryer were £1,000, and it heats up really quickly. I think I’ll switch the other one to electricity in time.
It’s really easy to waste water, but we’ve had new shallower sinks fitted to cut down on that and we’ll be monitoring the water savings from that and the new toilets we’ve put in too. We’ll also measure the energy reductions we’ve made with the new fridges and fryers as well as the motivation activated lighting. We sold the old equipment and managed to repurpose lots of the old doors and fittings.
Hungry to cut carbon
Three years ago, St Andrews University came and did a full carbon-footprinting of the restaurant and calculated that a meal at The Bay generates 115g of Co2 compared with 1100g in similar businesses. When we’ve got everything settled, I’m going to ask them to come and do it again and hopefully we’ll have taken that down even further.
Yes, it’s cost us £250,000, which is a lot of money and we were closed for 16 days, but in exchange I have better, more efficient equipment that has increased capacity. There will be a return on investment, but that’s not the reason why I’ve done it. I’ve done it to create a better environment for my staff, my customers and the planet and if I can at some future point see a financial return on that, then that’s great.
Three top tips for a successful refurb that works for your business and the planet
- Take time and evaluate what’s on the market and visit other businesses as part of your research
- Buy cheap buy twice. Spending a little more can ensure items last longer and work more efficiently
- Be clear on what you’re looking to achieve and take expert advice from outside the business.