New fish and chip business Hunters may have already hit its initial targets but the business won’t be stopping its search for new ones anytime soon.
The man at the heart of the venture, Mark Hinkins, has already seen the first branch exceed all expectations and now he is on the verge of opening his second restaurant in historic Lincoln.
In just the first six months Hunters, in Lincolnshire’s pretty market town of Louth, staff served their 5,000 customers.
During that time Hunters had already fried nearly 17,000 pieces of fish – enough, when laid end to end, to create Wembley’s famous arch 16 times.
It has also cooked nearly three tonnes of chips – the equivalent weight of an India Elephant.
All of Hunters line-caught fish is delivered from Grimsby docks daily. All the Maris Piper potatoes, considered the best for chips, are grown in Lincolnshire.
All of Hunters fish cakes are made using recipes designed by the staff, including the unique Lincolnshire fishcake, and made by hand in their own kitchen.
And it’s that locally-sourced, locally-made ethos which will be the cornerstone of Hunters.
The second branch, complete with a 25-seater restaurant, is due to open in the High Street of the historic city of Lincoln within weeks – making it the first fish and chip shop in the city’s pedestrianized heart in a generation.
But the challenge doesn’t phase Mark. He knows the key is always the quality of the food and there’s only one way to ensure it meets his high expectations – practice.
“When we opened the first branch in Louth I spent months trying different recipes, ingredients and cooking oils,” he said.
“I spent weeks trying different combinations and once I’d found the right one I then spent hours recreating it over and over again to ensure I could get the quality right every time.”
But Mark also knows the restaurant needs a unique look and feel to compliment the quality of food if it is to compete in the crowded “foodie” market in Lincoln.
So he has collaborated with interior designer Hayley Henshall and furniture wizard Jay Blades, star of BBC’s Money for Nothing, to create an entirely distinctive look.
Jay redesigns, reworks and restores salvaged pieces in his own individual style and has created unique furniture for the new Hunters restaurant.
“The new branch in Lincoln provides different challenges. It’s location in the heart of Lincoln is wonderful but provides a lot of competition from other food outlets, many of them well-known restaurant brands.
“So, of course, not only do we have to provide consistently good quality food but the look and feel of the restaurant is crucial too. We wanted to create a space that reflected the Hunters ethos and we have achieved that.
“The food will be created using locally sourced ingredients using our unique recipes and the design will be based around upcycled furniture. It’s a perfect fit and makes our restaurant stand out from a lot of the High Street brands that look exactly the same whichever branch you go into.”
And Mark hopes the Hunters adventure doesn’t end there.
“Once our second Hunters is launched and we’ve built a strong following then we’ll be on the search for the next opportunity.”