Jeffrey Clark has had a lifelong involvement with the fish and chips industry and in particular the Coastguard Café on Hayling Island. As a young lad, Jeffrey worked there as chip boy and then thirty years ago he took over the running of the Café and Fish & Chip shop.
The Coastguard Café on Hayling Island has been in the same family since 1942, situated on the south side of the island at Eastoke corner with the beach just across the road. Elliotts restaurant & Coastguard Fish & Chips is an essential part of the summer holiday for generations of families, young and old alike.
There is a large public car park, children’s play area and of course the beach with it’s own railway just across the road and traditional seaside gift shop and amusement arcade next door. The delicious food, relaxed atmosphere and the friendly welcome attracts customers all year round.
Open seven days a week and 52 weeks of the year, only shut on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the Coastguard Café has a loyal local trade. In the summer when the sun shines, queues appear because of the hundreds of customers who want to enjoy eating top quality fish and chips by the sea.
The Coastguard café has been voted best chippy in the Portsmouth and Havant area by readers of local paper, The News. It was the first time they had entered so winning the top award was a proud moment.
Jeffrey explains: “ I love the trade but without doubt, it’s hard graft. The queues don’t necessarily demonstrate the work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all pay off. Customers can come from miles away and we do not want to disappoint. A portion of cod and chips is priced at £5.60 as I only buy the top quality fish and serve it cooked in a top quality batter to make sure that we are offering a far superior product. “
Jeffrey strongly believes in supporting the local community and the Coastguard Café plays an important part in local fundraising and organizing events. Jeffrey and his team are supporting Wish & Chips, an initiative to raise money for local charities and individuals who need help and support.
There is also a lively calendar of free events planned throughout the year. On St Georges Day, the Coastguard Café helps organize free activities such as live music and face painting on the Plaza opposite. Recently, as a special thank you to the local customers who helped vote them No. 1 Chippy, Jeffrey gave away portions of free chips and curry sauce .
The “Keeping It Local” philosophy includes putting local produce on the menu and supporting local farmers. Jeffrey is justifiably proud that the potatoes he uses are all planted, grown and harvested locally on Hayling Island, three miles from the shop. They couldn’t be fresher, I don’t use any chemicals of any kind on my chips. I don’t soak them in, drywite or anything else.
Serving consistently good fish and chips takes effort and corners cannot be cut.
“Customers will soon tell if quality and taste isn’t up to scratch. This is certainly the case with batter. The wrong batter can ruin the flavour of the best fish. I was interested in finding an alternative batter mix but I had tried other makes and nothing came near to what I was looking for. We had been making our own batter mix for a number of years but when different staff make it up, it isn’t always consistent.
I researched online and found Ceres | Pure Food Innovation. I was sent a sample and was impressed by the quality.
“The flavour, colour and volume proved to be second to none. We have been using Ceres | Natural Batter Mix for over two years now, it is very consistent and so easy to use. I have taught 80% of the staff how to make the batter as it is so easy to train someone how to use the mix.
When we are busy, we get through a tremendous amount of potatoes. This summer we were using 36-38 sacks of pots a day at 25 kilo sacks a day that’s a lot of chips! We have used 78 bags of Ceres | Natural Batter Mix since June
7th, so that’s 78 in 5 months, so an average of nearly 4 a week, but in the busy summer season in July and August it more than doubled to about 9 a week.
“I introduced home made fish cakes to the menu this year using Ceres | Complete Fish Cake mix. They have proved very popular with our restaurant business and as they are so quick and easy to make we have now put them on the takeaway menu.
We mix half of fish and half Ceres | Fishcake Mix together. We add milk instead of water for extra flavour, then we simmer on the stove. When cool we shape into 4 oz fishcakes, place in the cold store, chill, then add breadcrumbs and they are ready to go. They have been a big success. We have found that we can add a bit of fun and topicality to the menu. For example, for Halloween we made witch shaped fish cakes, for Valentine’s we made hearts and for Christmas our fishcakes will be Xmas Tree shaped.”
“I also started using Ceres | Chip Shop Curry Sauce last year, it has proved very popular too.
We always have very good responses from our customers. We received a great accolade from one family group who had visited Rick Stein’s famous fish restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall and said that we were probably better!!”