The fourth Kerbisher & Malt site will be located on Clapham’s Abbeville Road alongside other eateries such as Adam Byatt’s Bistro Union, Abbeville Kitchen and The Ginger Pig. The site will have 32 covers for sit down dining and will also have a strong focus on the takeaway market.
BigHospitality talked to co-owner Nick Crossley about the premise of being a neighbourhood fish and chip shop and the business’ future expansion plans.
For their forth site Kerbisher & Malt chose the neighbourhood of Clapham and used ideas formed in their previous ventures to arrange the site so that the sitting area is slightly separate from the takeaway hatch. The restaurant worked with interior design specialist Alexander Waterworth to create a ‘welcoming, warm’ feel like that of a ‘classic chippy’ featuring large windows, wood panelling and a mosaic floor.
Crossley said: “Clapham appealed to us because it has a huge market and I’d say this particular area is really interesting. Abbeville Road is becoming more foodie and gentrified and it has a very strong neighbourhood feel to it. The residents association is very strong with an affection for the area coming from the community.
“We did quite a bit to the interior, stripping it out and creating the takeaway area. The rest of the site was a bit of a blank canvas so were able to spend more money on the fit out. I think we’ve gone slightly more traditional with this one and it feels a little more high end, but the atmosphere is still that of a local fish and chip shop.”
Neighbourhood fish and chip shop
Kerbisher & Malt refers to itself as a ‘neighbourhood fish and chip shop’ where the focus is on fresh, sustainably sourced fish served with twice-fried chips. The menu also has offerings such as calamari, whitebait, half-pints of prawns, fish finger butties, mushy peas and pickled onion rings. There are a few non-fish dishes too such as fresh pork sausages and spicy vegetable bites.
Crossley said: “We’ve made sure our menu has a local fish and chip shop feel, not that of a seafood restaurant. I think other people who’ve tried to do what we do have ended being a seafood restaurant, and those don’t tend to work unless they’re high end. So with all our restaurants we try not to go down that road.
“What makes us stand out is our dedication to fresh food cooked by chefs, whilst at the same time retaining an affection for the local fish and chip shop. We haven’t tried to reinvent it, we’ve taken what we think is a great staple offering and we’ve done it from the point of view of chefs.
“We’re just trying to elevate what we think is a really great dish and give customers the opportunity to eat it fresh in a really nice environment where they don’t end up paying too much for it either.”
Kerbisher & Malt’s fourth site will be opened in quick succession with their third, which opened in Mortlake in March.
“We spent quite a while with just two restaurants,” said Crossley. “A lot of that time was spent working out what worked and what didn’t work behind the scenes and logistically, but the aim was always to open a few more. The fact that we’ve opened two in quick succession is more to do with sites we liked becoming available.”
The restaurant is also planning to open its fifth site in July, which will be close to Farringdon’s Exmouth Market.
Crossley said: “The fifth site will be something slightly different as it will be more of a takeaway. It’s a small unit, but we’ll still have a few communal seats where people can eat. It won’t be a formal table service kind of establishment though.
“We will open more too. So far each of our sites have been slightly different in terms of its size, target market and surrounding area, and I think we’ll continue to assess what works and follow that up. We’re still really keen to try different things though, whether it’s street food, or setting up in more touristy areas, or going into the City.
“I think fish and chips can work anywhere, it’s been working for 150 years so it’s not like we have to educate the market about it. Our intention is definitely to open more sites this year.”