Swanage is to get a new high-profile fish and chip restaurant to replace Harry Ramsden’s.
The premises on the corner of Station Road and Shore Road, opposite The Mowlem theatre, has been trading on a temporary basis since being taken over by the family-owned restaurant chain Harlees.
The firm, with its base at Corfe Mullen in Dorset, owns seven other fish and chip shops including one along the High Street in the Herston area of Swanage.
A major refurbishment of the new Swanage town centre site represents a six-figure investment in the prime location.
The temporary look ahead of major refurbishment
“Perfect place for us”
It’s hoped the new look restaurant will reopen at the end of March 2022, in time for the Easter holidays. It will employ more than 30 staff.
Richard Long, founder and director of Harlees, said:
“I love Swanage, it’s a classic seaside town and the perfect place for us as a business to have a restaurant.
“It’s a fantastic site, right on the main street, near the seafront. It’s where people take their holiday photos, and we want something that will look a lot smarter and compliment Swanage and enhance the whole area, which I don’t think Harry Ramsden’s did.”
The old look Harry Ramsden’s
Started ‘peeling spuds’ aged nine
Richard Long started in the fish and chip business ‘peeling spuds’ at the age of nine at his father’s shop in Broadstone.
“Fish and chips were the only takeaways in those days, so it’s become much more competitive and we as a business have to change and adapt all the time.”
Fish and chips – the seaside classic
New ‘green’ menu
Changes for Harlees include creating a ‘green menu’ with vegetarian fish and chips, using battered jackfruit instead of fish, and developing their own custom ‘light and crispy’ batter.
Fish and chips is a four-generation thing for the family. Richard’s father, Derek Long, had followed his father Percy into the fish and chip business. And Richard’s daughter Kaylee Herbert is a director of the firm.
Richard launched the first Harlees in 1997 at Verwood and now runs outlets including one at Poole Quay and as far afield as Bradford on Avon and Westbury in Wiltshire.
The Harlees restaurant at Poole Quay, outside and inside
“Freshness is the key”
Richard, who still likes to eat fish and chips at least once or twice a week himself, said:
“Freshness is the key to good fish and chips. Keep it fresh. The majority of the time we will fry to order. Obviously, if it’s really busy you can’t always do that, but also using great products and making sure you have a really lovely environment to serve it up in.”
Experienced manager Zoultan, from the Bradford on Avon branch in Wiltshire, will be heading up the Swanage team.
Father and daughter – Richard Long and Kaylee Herbert
“Be a part of the community”
Harlees likes to get involved in the community and has in the past sponsored events like the Swanage Carnival.
“We try to be a part of the community, to run a successful business but to give back to the town as well. We’re really looking forward to getting in to the new place.”
The new look Harlees restaurant should be open by the end of March 2022