Saturday, March 2, 2013
For some people, sitting on Wells Quayside, tucking into good old fashioned portion of fish and chips is the perfect dining experience.
Watching the boats go in and out and the everyday activities of the harbour which have been carried out for hundreds of years while savouring the unforgettable flavours of the British favourite is utopia for thousands.
And this year the French family is celebrating serving fish and chips from Wells Quayside for 90 years.
French’s Fish & Chips has actually been going for 92 years after originally opening at another location in the town – opposite where Barclays bank now stands – in 1921.
But French’s opened at its current Quayside location in February, 1923.
And it celebrated the 90-year milestone by selling portions of fish and chips for 90p on Thursday.
Current owner Marcus French, 54, the third generation of his family to run French’s, said business was still as strong as it had ever been.
He said: “We have queues of people going out of the doors in the summer and still do OK in the quieter winter months as well.
“I think it is fantastic that today, with lots of national chain shops closing down and finding it difficult to survive in this time of economic hardship, small family businesses like mine are still going strong.
“Wells is lucky in that it still has lots of small independently run shops and businesses and that gives the town its unique character.
“When you go to many big cities these days, they often look the same.”
French’s Fish & Chips was started in 1921 by Marcus’s grandparents, William and Blanche French.
William French was from Tamworth, Staffordshire.
He visited Wells during the first world war, fell in love with the town and vowed to make it his home if he made it through the war alive.
Even though he was gassed, William French survived the Great War and came back to Wells to start the fish and chip business which has gone on to win numerous awards and continues to thrive today.
After William, brothers Reg and Maurice French ran the business.
Marcus did odd jobs in the shop as a child and has run French’s since 1984.
So what has been the secret of French’s success and longevity?
“We keep things simple,” said Mr French.
“We use good quality fish, fresh local potatoes, home-made batter, years of experience and, of course, make the most of this wonderful location.”
Mr French’s daughter, Alanna, 19, is now the fourth generation of the French family to work for the business, so the family tradition may carry on for many decades to come.