Bridgette Fricker has lived in Foxton Beach since she was 11 years old and has just taken charge of a shop considered to be an institution by the community.
A visit to Mr Grumpy’s has long been part of the Foxton Beach experience, and the new owner is well aware of its legacy. She’s worked there for 15 years.
Bridgette Fricker worked alongside Greg Hitchcock at the popular fish‘n’chip shop for 15 years, but on July 27 she took over the reins.
As Hitchcock got older and started to pull away from the day-to-day running of the business, Fricker took on more and more responsibilities.
It was a slow but smooth transition over six years that allowed the business to sail on as if nothing had changed.
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“It’s been a great first week,” said Fricker. “The day-to-day running of it is fine. It’s just been sorting stuff like changing over all the accounts, registering with all the different distributors, and doing all the paperwork.
“Other than that, it’s all the same. Why try to change something that isn’t broken?”
Mr Grumpy’s has been a staple for beach-goers and locals in Horowhenua. On busy summer days, wait times can be anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes.
While the shop is a small operation with seven staff, they regularly encourage summer visitors to call ahead for their orders.
However, even in the thick of winter, Fricker said the shop was holding up well.
“We’ve been doing really well because fish‘n’chips is the cheaper takeaway.
“I mean, for a family to go to any of the big brands, you’re talking maybe $60 or more. Whereas you can feed a family of four here for about $25-$30.
“We get all sorts in here from all over. Locals, tourists, people visiting for the day. And of course, you have the regulars who come in every Thursday or Friday night.”
The big draw for customers is in the frying. While many fish‘n’chip shops use oil, Mr Grumpy’s has stuck by fat, which affects the taste and holds the heat better.
It also offers the British late night delicacy of curry and chips, a rarity in New Zealand, and a range of sides distinct to the shop.
“We’ve got the bacon and potato fritters, pumpkin corn fritters, cheese and onion fritters, and we make them all ourselves. So it’s not something you can go to the supermarket or anywhere else get yourself,” Fricker said.
Like almost every other business in the country, Mr Grumpy’s was negotiating rising costs and supply chain delays. Fricker said she was still waiting to see the impact.