Paignton Pier Chippy: Growing through a crisis

Paignton Pier Chippy

Paignton Pier Chippy - Credit: Archant

At a time of crisis and uncertainty, Torbay entrepreneurism remains as strong as ever in the form of an expanding Paignton Pier Chippy Co.

Pier Point on Torquay seafront

Pier Point on Torquay seafront - Credit: Archant

After building a superb reputation with award-winning fish and chips served from Paignton Pier, owners Lorraine Arnold and Henry Moreton took the major step of buying Pier Point on Torquay seafront just before the full implications of lockdown life became clear.

Despite the unprecedented hurdles, Lorraine, Henry and their dedicated team have worked hard to achieve a responsible reopening of their tourism business, starting with food served from Paignton Pier.

'We had to close for the initial four weeks after all the roads around the Paignton Pier were shut,' said Lorraine. 'Like everyone else, we had to get our heads around the situation and put forward risk assessments for reopening.

'We were in a position where we had no choice but to reopen because we were not eligible for a grant or any Government assistance, despite all we pay to HMRC. We felt it was an unfair system but we approached the council to ask if we could reopen, if it was policed by us.

The Paignton Pier Chippy Company venture across the Bay to Torquay and Pier Point

The Paignton Pier Chippy Company venture across the Bay to Torquay and Pier Point - Credit: Archant

'We paid for new signage and barriers, adopted a click-and-collect service to get ourselves up and running again.

'After a couple more weeks, the Esplanade was reopened and we allow walk-ups, where people order from one window and then collect their food through a separate window.

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'It is all done safely but we are still down 50 per cent on last year. Our hope was for an even better year than 2019 but we now just hope the tourists will return to Torbay.

'If the hotels, guesthouses and holiday parks are able to reopen, it obviously helps for a business like ourselves.

'We have managed to build up a decent amount of local trade but the tourism industry is all inter-linked, so it helps everyone to reopen.

'All our staff have now returned from furlough, apart from one who has childcare issues, another problem the Government needs to address. She wants to come back to work but doesn't fit into the keyworker category for a return to school.'

Despite the myriad of challenges, Lorraine has also made adjustments to the Candy Bar, a small shop on Torquay seafront, allowing them to sell ice creams to the passing public.

Incredibly, the company has yet another project on the menu after buying the fabulous Pier Point restaurant on the seafront, where they have enhanced the kiosk and added a fish and chips option to accompany the sumptuous bistro food that will hopefully be able to reopen in early July.

'We moved the freezer to the door at the Candy Bar, so we could sell ice creams and get that open against all the odds,' said Lorraine.

'When we bought Pier Point in March, we had no idea of what was going to happen with the current crisis.

'We managed to refurbish the kiosk to get that open. We've also created a new business by knocking a wall down to open a fish and chips takeaway on the side of Pier Point, bringing the award-winning brand of the Paignton Pier Chippy over to Torquay.

'The next plan is to have tables and chairs outside to get the restaurant open at Pier Point. We've added the fish and chips element to Pier Point, enhanced the kiosk menu with burgers to give more options and the restaurant is next.

'We are looking to open that with a reduced menu through the summer as a bistro, serving steaks, burgers, pasta and salads, and then embark on a major refurb after the season.'