How I Got Here: Kelly Barnes

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with Kelly Barnes owner of Krispies in Exmouth chairperson at this year’s Women in Fish and Chips conference in Birmingham

Related tags: Fish and chips

The owner of Krispies in Exmouth, who has been named chairperson at this year’s Women in Fish and Chips conference in Birmingham, on building her business, VAT and staffing struggles.

Why restaurants?
I sort of fell into fish and chips at 17, but absolutely loved it.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Don’t be hard on yourself when things aren’t right and take time for your family. You’re working hard for them, but don’t miss the important bits.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
I love a salad and have recently discovered Tossed. We don’t have them down in Devon, but whenever I travel I try to seek one out.

What motivates you?
I’m driven to makes peoples' work experiences better.

What keeps you up at night?
Right now probably the staffing situation in terms of numbers, being short staffed is having a huge impact on our sector at the moment.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Fred Capel is my mentor who owns a restaurant takeaway in Bournemouth his wisdom is immeasurable.

What time do you wake up?
Between 6am and 6:30.

Coffee or tea?
Tea.

How do you let off steam?
An hour on my treadmill.

Typical Sunday?
Beach walk and roast dinner with the family.

What are you currently reading?
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober​ by Catherine Gray.

Best business decision?
Investing every penny back into the business in the early days.

Worst business decision?
Not taking hold of my own accounts at an early stage in the business. My father in law helped us a lot, but I believe this gave us a lack of knowledge in to the shop that we needed to run it efficiently.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Work hard from day one, always be the first one to step in when things don’t go right and never forget to go back to the shop floor. 

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I have to say the VAT system needs to be re-evaluated in this country, it makes no sense.

Bio

Born in Burton on Trent, Barnes left school with no GCSEs and started her own business when she was 17. With her partner, Tim, Barnes launched Krispies in 2000, working across every role in the business including cleaner, counter server, fish cutting, banking and HR. The pair have built an estate of two fish and chip restaurants under the Krispies brand in Exmouth, and was crowned The Best Fish & Chip Shop in the UK in 2019.

Barnes will be chairperson at this year’s Women in Fish and Chips conference in Birmingham, which is organised by JJ Foodservice and will take place on 28 February 2022. For more details, click here​.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Casual Dining

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