Summer in Australia brings a few key things to mind; the beach, beers and fish and chips. Which is why Glenferrie Road newcomer Eat Fish came at the perfect time.
Opening January 7, Eat Fish isn’t your average fish and chip shop. Selling locally sourced market fresh fish daily, as well as frying up your flake and fried dimmies, it’s got something for everyone.
John Chats is one of the five business partners running the new Hawthorn store, and has owned or managed fish shops around Melbourne since the mid 80s.
“If people ask me what my secret is, I tell them it’s passion,” says Chats.
“I love going down to the market and seeing the fish alive and glistening, then bringing that back for the customer.
“But it’s not just about going to the market and getting what’s on special, it’s about checking the product, we use our senses to see, touch, smell the fish and make sure it’s good quality.”
Chats says majority of their produce comes from Lakes Entrance or Portland in Victoria, while their salmon is usually from Tasmania and crustaceans from Queensland.
When buying seafood from Eat Fish, you can rest assured it is fresh and you can find out its origin with ease.
“We have full traceability on our fish, if you ask me I can tell you where it’s come from,” says Chats, who also updates their Facebook page regularly to inform customers what they have in stock for the day and where it came from.
“Sometimes we have the fish mongers come in later in the day to see their wares,” he jokes.
Eat Fish have an original store in Ashburton, which has been trading for the past two years before their new store opened on Glenferrie Road.
Chats hopes the new location will lift their profile a little more, as well as encourage people to eat fresh, local produce.
“We care about the product and we care about the customer,” he says.
While he admits the 3am visits to the market and running a joint business of restaurant and fish shop can be tiring, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I can’t work out of boxes,” he says.
“It can be easier for some companies to do it that way, and I don’t blame them, business is hard and not everyone can afford to do what we do but the only issue I have with that is, don’t tell me you use Australian fish.
“Do what you have to do, charge what you have to charge, but don’t tell your customers you are serving Australian seafood, that is my pet peeve.”
The fitout at both Eat Fish stores is complete with a full wash down area for produce to be gutted and portioned for sale and consumption.
Chats says the Ashburton store can be filled with four tonnes of fish each week, and they hope for the same result on Glenferrie Road.
And after many years surrounded by seafood, Chats says he still can’t get enough of the stuff.
“I eat about a kilo of fish a day, minimum of five kilos a week. It’s the best protein, it’s from the wild, there are no chemicals, no nothing,” he says.
The passion for fresh produce isn’t just evident in Chats, it radiates through the entire store. Staff members are happy, as are the customers, and the seafood on sale is proudly promoted in the shop window for all to see.
It’s hard to think of many other food outlets that let you buy fresh produce or have it cooked for you on the premises, but the team at Eat Fish seem to be onto a winner.