Tonks, who opened his first Rockfish restaurant in Dartmouth in 2010, told M&C Report he is “on a steady expansion trail at the moment and Torquay was the first logical stop.”
Tonks said he is looking to ramp up his expansion plans following a re-financing last year. The restaurants will be located in coastal towns outside of the group’s current geographical spread.
“The idea is that being by the sea you get fresh fish a day earlier than anywhere else and so far the restaurants have been quite regenerative in the towns we have gone into. They’re family friendly where you can enjoy great wines and have great food.”
The latest, 60-cover Rockfish is located on Victoria Parade on the marina in Torquay and had a “phenomenal” first weekend, “it was packed,” said Tonks.
Tonks is still evaluating the idea of taking the concept to London or other in-land towns, he said: “I would never say no but at the moment we will keep it on the coast.”
“We want to keep eating fish as a special occasion, you go to the coast and think ‘where can I eat great fish?’,” he said.
The next Rockfish is due to open in 2015 to join other existing sites in Dartmouth and Plymouth as well as the Rockfish Grill in Bristol and a Rockfish seafood & chips take-away and the Seahorse restaurant both in Dartmouth.
Speaking to BigHospitality in July 2013, Tonks explained he has always been fascinated by the sea, and started his hospitality career as a fishmonger. The accountant-turned-chef said he had been inspired by books written by Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David to open his first dining venue.
“I didn’t know what I was doing at the start so I just got myself busy. I opened the shop and attacked it with passion and vision,” he added.