16 June 2024

Revamped chippie up for second award

by Michelle Horst

A Hornsea restaurant that won Takeaway of the Year in the 2023 National Fish and Chip Awards has completed a £250,000 renovation and revealed it has been shortlisted for another accolade in this year’s contest.

Although Whiteheads will be handing over the coveted trophy shortly, owner Geoff Whitehead already has other plans.

“It can only be won once,” Mr Whitehead said, adding that he had no intention to expand.

However, after the intensity of being the centre of attention for a year, the owner is aiming at fresh challenges. The national dish may have a greasy reputation, but Whiteheads, in the Greenway, is working hard to change that while continuing to uphold the standards that won it the top award last year.

Reducing costs and the environmental impact of the business are on his priority list, and his efforts so far have resulted in Whiteheads being shortlisted in the Environment and Sustainability category for the 2024 National Fish and Chip Awards.

In the autumn of 2023 Hornsea Town Council heard an application for the addition of tulip wind turbines, and this upgrade is part of Mr Whitehead’s next goal.

He added: “It takes a lot of power, and in the cost-of-living crisis, I really don’t want to be passing that cost on to my customers. Utilita, the energy company, will be sponsoring the turbines that will sit on the flat roof. And all this goes into keeping the prices down for our customers.”

Whiteheads already benefits from 28 solar panels.

Mr Whitehead added: “I’m trying to not take too much of the grid. We have unprecedented gas and electric prices, so to combat both, the panels and the wind turbines will help contribute towards lowering my bills and also keeping prices low.”

Sustainability is also a key part of Whiteheads.

Sourcing products locally, investing in staff, recycling waste oil, and great effort in reducing the amount of plastic used and redesigning the in-house production process all reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact and result in healthier fish and chips for the customer.

Mr Whitehead said: “Not only am I passionate about my job, I’m passionate about the environment and how we interact with it.”

For the owner, the business is more than “just fish and chips” and always has been. Mr Whitehead is heavily involved in the Hornsea community. Staff are proud to be part of the team and keen to embrace modern approaches. Whiteheads is the main sponsor of the town’s football team and also works closely with Hornsea School and Language College to support pupils there.

Mr Whitehead added: “The biggest thing of all is watching the town flourish. We’re part of the community because this is where my heart is.”

The restaurant has undergone an extensive renovation, with brand-new stainless steel frying ranges installed, as well as a new gluten- free fryer to cater for a wider range of needs.

Behind the scenes, the dedication to cleanliness and quality continues. Replacement shelving and a multitude of sustainably sourced food-grade surfaces and equipment are ready to go. Even the food preparation and storage has been given intense attention to detail.

In the restaurant, the acoustic panels displaying a homage to Hornsea’s history maintain pride of place. Fresh paint and teal tiling bolster the eat-in experience that day trippers travel miles for. Warm, industrial-style lighting add whispers of a Michelin-level finish to the refurbishment.

The national and international attention has benefited the whole town, but the redecoration is not just lip service. The chip shop has long been the pride of Hornsea for many of the residents. Whiteheads has built a reputation for providing the very best quality food and a welcoming experience for customers.

“I’m as passionate about the industry as I am about Hornsea,” Mr Whitehead said.