October 1 2014 Latest news:
By CHRIS HILL
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
A popular chip shop owner is retiring after 45 years of serving traditional fish dinners to the people of Norwich.
Mal Motta was born in Italy but grew up in Wales, where his father ran a chip shop in Caerphilly which was once visited by Welsh singing legend Tom Jones.
Since moving to Norwich in 1967, Mr Motta has continued the family tradition by opening a dozen restaurants and take-aways, selling Britain’s time-honoured dish in and around his own adopted home city.
But now the 67-year-old is stepping back from the fryers to allow a third generation to run the business.
The Grosvenor Fish Bar, on the corner of Lower Goat Lane and Pottergate, has been bought by his son Christian, who left behind a career as an interior designer in New York to start a new life selling fish and chips.
Meanwhile, his daughter Lucy has already been running the family’s Rembrandt restaurant on Dereham Road in Easton with her partner Skip for eight years.
The retiring Mr Motta said he was certain that his legacy was in safe hands – but he will still be available to help out if needed.
“I am going on holiday for a couple of months and then in September I will come back to help my children out where I can. My other son Dario is in London studying pharmacology, so I’m no help to him!
“It is a lovely business and a lovely city, so it is nice to keep it in the family.”
Mr Motta said he would spend a couple of months with his 89-year-old mother in Italy before returning to the city which enchanted him in the 1960s.
“I think Norwich is the nicest city in the world,” he said. “People in Norfolk don’t always understand that, but if you talk to people over here on holidays they all say what a beautiful city it is.”
Mr Motta’s chip shop career started in Stafford Street, and has included shops in Sprowston Road, Bowthorpe Road, St John’s Close, and Upper Stafford Avenue in Norwich, as well as outlets in Horstead and Lowestoft.
“I used to like challenges, and it was lovely to go and meet different people,” he said. “I met nice people in all of these shops. People in different areas might see you and say: ‘Which shop do I know you from?’
“Fish and chips is not like it was 40 years ago, because you have McDonalds and all the other fast food now, but I still enjoy it and it is still a challenge. I think young people are starting to take it up again.
“If you go on holiday for a couple of weeks in Italy it is nice, but you look forward to fish and chips when you come home.”
Christian Motta, 43, worked for ten years in New York as an interior design and a costume designer for film and TV sets before returning to take over the Grosvernor Fish Bar from his father.
“I always loved this shop,” he said. “I used to work in it when I was a 15 and when I had the opportunity to buy it and I thought it needed a face-lift so we renovated it as a project.
“Manhattan had got a bit too over-commercial for me. I like it here. It is not such a culture shock because I grew up here. I was born at the chip shop in Stafford Street, so it is good to be back.”
The words ‘I’m out’ too often spell the end for an invention before it has even left the drawing board.