Member Spotlight: JoJo’s Fish and Chips

JoJo's Fish and Chips

If there’s one thing Britain still loves like it always has, it’s fish and chips. National Fish and Chip day honours this culinary rite, and is a moment for all of us to thank those who keep bellies satiated with the best battered fish and seasoned chips throughout the years.

For Staffordshire based Jojo’s Fish and Chips, this day is a momentous occasion and one they duly commemorate. For last years iteration, the team headed in their van to feed 2000 NHS staff at Staffordshire hospital, something business owner John Evans recounts as being a privilege: ‘It was one of the biggest events in the country – everyone was so thankful and we felt it was lovely gesture to make, to give something back.’

This year, as National Fish and Chip day coincides with D-Day which this year marks the 80th year remembrance, the two occasions are sharing the 6th June. Merging the two is a decision made by ministers, and it helps us to remember our heritage while also celebrating a dish that has been the backbone of Britain for generations. JoJo’s are set to be involved in D-Day remembrance events in Stafford and are looking forward to once again providing some cheer for their local community on such an important occasion.

Founded in 1999, Jojo’s Fish and Chips began as a bricks and mortar premise in Stafford run by John’s mother and father-in-law. At 16, John himself got involved and began helping out by peeling potatoes. Before too long he was cooking and serving customers and through his work at the store met his future wife Anna who he now shares three children with. In John’s own words, ‘between 1999 and 2011 I always worked there on a part time basis, just helping them out alongside studying at university and progressing in my own career in software.’

But things changed in 2011, when unfortunately Maria, John’s mother-in-law became quite ill, prompting them to ask John if he’d take over the shop. ‘Maria was a real perfectionist, so her being ill had a negative knock-on effect with the shop and for a while it wasn’t doing too well. When I took over, I had to assess some things and tell my father-in-law what he was doing wrong and how we needed to change things, and from there things started to improve.’

Improve they did, the reputation of the business grew to another level as they were consistently producing high quality products and worked into a routine where they could turn around orders with proficiency.

Fish and chips is an ever popular meal for consumers as it is for caterers, so how do you go about perfecting the dish, making sure yours stand out? ‘Fish and chips are a simple meal – you don’t need to overcomplicate it – you’re dealing with a few basic elements so make sure you are sourcing the best quality ingredients to start with and you’re already in a good place.’ John’s mantra is to focus on providing quality, making sure the process for cooking is consistent each time and you can’t go far wrong. With the product garnering rave reviews, enquiries started to ramp up for JoJo’s to cater at weddings and events, but there was only so much one shop could do.

John started thinking about getting a van to literally expand the reach of the business, and ‘spent lots of time around 2019 phoning up various mobile caterers to see if I could just go and work with them for a day on the van, to see for myself what it’s actually like and to visualise how it would work for us.’

After searching for the right van for a while, a friend put John in touch with someone selling a van who had planned to progress with their own catering business but things didn’t work out that way for them, and instantly John knew it was the right van for JoJo’s. It then took plenty of investment to get the unit kitted out aesthetically and functionally to be able to provide that same quality eating experience as customers get at the shop, as well as having that ‘showcase element’ that’s going to make a splash wherever it turns up.

Wheels on the road, JoJo’s began taking their beloved fish and chips further afield, catering festivals, weddings, events and corporate jobs. In 2023, they were ranked in the Top 3 for Mobile Operators by The National Fish and Chip awards – a huge accolade, which they’ve followed up this year with the number one spot – making them, in the eyes of prestigious critics, the best mobile fish and chip operator in the country. ‘It was incredible to win that, for me I’ve been involved with this shop for 25 years now and to see where we’ve come to is remarkable.’

Balancing a fixed site premises and a mobile unit is no slim feat, and John credits their ability to do this prosperously to having an amazing team. He shouts out all of them, with a nod to Operations Manager Imogen Jones who herself was named in the UK Top 10 TOP 10 Drywite Young Fish Friers of the Year at the National Fish & Chip Awards 2024.

John states that for him ‘the vision of the business was always to be at the very top.’ The year on year accolades the business has swooped up are surely proof of this aim coming to fruition, and are a testament to many years of hard work and belief in the business. Customers know exactly what they’re getting with JoJo’s, and can expect the same level of experience where visiting the store or the van. ‘It’s a transparent takeaway in our focus’, states John – alluding to offering just what it says on the tin, and how this approach has proven so fruitful for the business.

‘The majority of our van business is corporate trade and we know how important reputation is when catering in general but specifically with those type of jobs – we’ve been hired to cater for companies where they’re unsure as they’ve had fish and chip vans previously who weren’t the most impressive. We put so much effort and care into what we do, we’ve had so much repeat business from corporate events.’

Furthermore, on occasion the team have excelled with these events to the point they’ve subsequently been hired by bosses to cater for personal events. John would recommend to any budding caterers to make good on these kind of opportunities, as they can prove lucrative alongside the benefits of corporate catering where you already know how many covers so can prepare accurately beforehand, as opposed to trading at a festival for example, which can be like ‘rolling dice’.

For National Fish and Chip day, again JoJo’s are proud to be representing the industry and getting involved with the local community in honour of a British tradition. They are a shining example of how a time-old dish can not only survive, but thrive in the modern, diverse culinary landscape.

As for the most important question – when it comes to the often divisive question of salt and vinegar on his chips personally, John is in no doubt: ‘Oh absolutely, 100%’.

Find out more about JoJo’s Fish and Chips here and follow their journey here.

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Note: The NCASS office will be close from 2PM on Friday 14th June for staff training.