Jan 27 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Raphael and Ida Fionda, Mohammad Adnan and Giovanni Fionda celebrate
STAFF at Atlantic Fast Food in Coatbridge are enjoying the taste of success after being officially crowned as Britain’s best fish and chip shop.
The Calder Street takeaway scooped the ultimate national crown at a glittering ceremony in London last week, receiving the coveted trophy from celebrity chef Aldo Zilli.
Owner Giovanni Fionda, his parents Raphael and Ida and their staff proved they were oceans apart by battering thousands of entrants from all over the country to win.
It was the first time Atlantic had entered the prestigious contest to find the country’s best chippie – and as well as winning the top prize, their staff also earned a customer service award.
Giovanni collected the award with his parents at Thursday’s ceremony at the Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel and has even been asked to advise Aldo Zilli on the opening of his own fish and chip shop.
The winning owner said: “When they announced that we’d won, I was absolutely speechless, which isn’t like me!
“I saw it as part of our national pride and duty to bring the trophy home to Scotland and to Coatbridge. We didn’t want to come back to the staff empty-handed because they’ve done so much hard work and really pulled together to get us this award.
“It was fantastic to be able to come back and say to them that we’re the best in Britain. This is a brilliant thing for the community and for all the local people who have supported us for the past four years.
“I’m really delighted that our staff won the customer service award – it shows that they’re hard working and great with our customers, and this one belongs to them.”
High-frying Atlantic earned the best of British accolade in the contest, organised by Seafood, after being nominated by customers and impressing judges.
They became the third successive Scottish winner of the overall title after taste tests, shop inspections, mystery shopper visits and a presentation to industry experts.
Shops were also judged on issues such as responsible seafood sourcing, customer service, food hygiene and staff training.
The Atlantic staff – who are also currently in line for another award recognising the nation’s best chips – pride themselves on all of those points, and ensuring that they have a smile, joke and perhaps even a free gift for their loyal customers.
Giovanni said: “Hard work and determination are what make us stand out, as everyone here treats this as a profession and not just a job.
“We have a fish of they day, which changes daily to feature different species such as hake or turbot, so we can educate customers that there are other fish are out there which are good for you while helping fish stocks.
“Customers can also choose baked and grilled fish, and everything is cooked in vegetable oil so it’s suitable for particular dietary needs.
“It’s been manic ever since we won the award last week and it’s been great to be so busy, as we all love what we do.
“We also have that local sense of humour – on Burns Night on Monday, we gave away free neeps with every haggis, and on Christmas Eve we gave customers free carrots for Rudolph.
“As a small business, we can also do things like taking a collection for Haiti as soon as we’d seen the earthquake on TV for there’s a real community spirit.”
Giovanni’s family have been in the fish and chip shop business for many years, and he added: “It’s always been great fun.
“Winning this award is the best thing to have happened to us in our professional life and has made all the hard work worth it.
“I just think it’s amazing. ”