One of the best foods we have the Brits to thank for is fish and chips. Although I'm always partial to a scone or finger sandwich, few things compare to the greasy, crispy deliciousness of fried fish with a side of fries. The fast food chain who introduced this fried delight to the American public is Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips, and we couldn't be more grateful.
The Place to Go for Fish and Chips
Fortunately for us, Arthur Treacher's is planning on making a comeback. Anyone who was eating fast food in the '70's and '80's is likely familiar with this fish n chips joint, as it reached its peak success in the '70s.
Throughout the late '70's, this tasty fast food joint operated over 800 fish and chips restaurants across the country, bringing this British delicacy to all who would have it. This brand was created partly by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas, and it was started in Columbus, Ohio in 1969.
Arthur Treacher, the English actor known for his role of Jeeves the butler in Shirley Temple films, became a spokesperson for the seafood restaurant. The restaurant chain was named after him, and it was his face found on the doors of the fast food restaurant's many locations.
The Fall of Arthur Treachers
Arthur Treacher's restaurants immediately rose to fame with its fried cod fillet menu item, which were identical to those in a traditional English fish and chips shop. However, in the '70's, the "Cod Wars" occurred in Europe, between Iceland, the U.K and a few other countries. This caused an end to British long-distance fishing, making cod prices too expensive for import.
Franchisees were greatly affected by the new prices, and eventually, Arthur Treacher's was taken over by frozen fish manufacturer Mrs. Paul's in 1979. To keep the brand afloat, the company switched from cod to pollock, which saved money but lost them many loyal customers who came for high-quality cod.
Over the years, Arthur Treacher's continued to change hands as new owners attempted to revive it to its previous success. However, in 2019 there were only seven locations of the restaurant chain left, in New York and Ohio. Now, there are only two, in northeast Ohio's Cuyahoga Falls and Garfield Heights, near Cleveland.
Arthur Treacher's Return
Although the beloved restaurant has fallen far, James Walker of Nathan's Famous is determined to bring delicious and authentic fish and chips back to the U.S., reviving Arthur Treachers to its former glory.
Walker notes that Arthur Treacher's continues to have "huge brand recognition," and he adds that it was his go-to spot growing up.
"We're using the same breading that everyone loves. That same hand-batter, crispy golden batter. We'll have the same hush puppies. But we're upgrading all of the proteins," Walker says. "We're adding more shrimp to the menu. We're really upscaling the quality, but keeping those same flavors and appearance that people love about the brand."
"Seafood is typically not something people make at home. It's something they want to have a restaurant make for them. One of the things we're super excited about is we don't think we have a lot of competition in the space," Walker says. "And we think growth for the brand is going to be very brisk."
A Brand New Menu
Arthur Treacher's new menu will feature Fish n' Chips Sandwich, Fish n' Chips Platter, Captain's Dinner, Shrimp n' Chips Basket, Chicken Platter, Shrimp & Fish Basket, Boom Boom Shrimp Platter, Shrimp, Bacon, Boom Boom Fries, Nathan's Famous hot dogs, and hand-dipped chicken sandwiches, along with a selection of new sauces.
"We're making sure all of the food is memorable, creaveable, and Instagrammable," Walker says. "We think it absolutely has huge potential to grow."
Look out for the fish and chips restaurant this year! Few places could make a better fried fish sandwich, not to mention its plethora of delicious-sounding shrimp items.