British Chippy The
By Jeff Collins

Real Fish and Chips

When Simone Hodgkinson immigrated to Canada from England 15 years ago, she missed what we would call French fries. Of course, this Manchester girl would never call them that! “I was vegetarian then so I missed chips big-time,” she says. “And I couldn’t believe that we lived here and there were so many Brits and there were no chippies here. It didn’t make sense to me that I couldn’t get real fish and chips.”

When her husband, Gary was laid off in the spring of 2009, he got three months’ severance. His wife persuaded him to use his severance money to fill that culinary gap. The couple bought an old burger joint in the Shoppes of Bridlewood mall, renovated it and opened The British Chippy in October of that year.

British hours, British food, served on British china. Not your average fish and chips. - Simone Hodgkinson, co-owner
The British Chippy was started because Simone, a British native, missed traditional British chips

Sailing The Fish

The Hodgkinson family has been in the fish and chips business in England since 1950, so Gary was getting back into the family business on the other side of the Atlantic. He travelled back to England to train with the venerable “National Federation of Fish Fryers” in Leeds. Gary learned how to massage the batter into a fresh piece of fish, take off the excess and then gently float the piece on top of the oil in a deep fryer.  His teacher called it, “sailing the fish.”

“My instructor was Arthur and he’d been doing it for 40 years so anything he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing,” says Gary.

The British Chippy offers customers authentic British fish and chips, hand battered and delicately fried in oil, with chips handcut from organic potatoes

A Quest for Authenticity

Gary and Simone are on a quest to replicate the fish and chip places they remember from home. Even the hours are very English.  The place closes between 2:00 and 4:30 pm most days to allow staff to rotate and do a proper clean up. “We are following English hours” says Simone. “If you went to a fish and chip shop in England, that’s exactly what would happen.”

The menu stays simple: fish, meat pies and even battered sausage, a delicacy introduced to keep customers from the south of England happy. All served with the chips, hand cut from organic potatoes, that Simone yearned for when she first arrived. They stock British soft drinks and are licensed to serve bottles and cans of British beer.

The British Chippy serves traditional British fare, such as fish and chips, meat pies and sausage

On To Okotoks

In 2014, Gary and Simone bought a bungalow in Okotoks that had been turned into a coffee shop, and set up their second location. The additional location meant Simone had to give up her full-time job as a fitness director for half a dozen health clubs and the security of a regular pay cheque.  “At the end of the day, if we are in business and we can’t afford to pay ourselves, what’s the point?” she says.

Don’t look for change at either location of The British Chippy.  The owners have no intention of evolving into a place for seafood. Instead, customers can expect, as Simone puts it, “British hours, British food, served on British china. Not your average fish and chips.”

The British Chippy follows British hours of operation, serves traditional British food and British beer
The British Chippy opened a second location in Okotoks following its popularity in Calgary
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