Rapidly expanding fish and chips, seafood boil restaurants finding niche in US fast-casual scene
Seafood restaurant chains are expanding throughout the U.S., as the entire restaurant industry is capitalizing on what has been a profitable summer.
The Wee Chippy, which started as a single shop in Venice Beach, California, in 2013, is one such chain, with multiple openings planned for 2024 in several states, founder Joe Gorrie told SeafoodSource.
The restaurant operator recently signed a 30-unit development deal – its first franchise deal – with The Tastebuds Group to open locations across the U.S. states of Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Tennessee. It opened a location in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. in July and will open another restaurant in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. in late November.
The Wee Chippy is attempting to satisfy demand for fish and chips, which Gorrie said is not adequately addressed by the fast-casual restaurant market.
“We are filling an opening in the market. Fish and chips is a universally loved dish, yet in the U.S., there is no known successful fish-and-chips brand,” Gorrie, a native of Scotland, added.
The brand differentiates itself by offering gluten-free and vegan options.
"Now everyone can enjoy fish and chips,” Gorrie said. “We also toss our chips with our line of specialty salts, like truffle, garlic, rosemary, and applewood smoked.”
Gorrie also wants to bring The Wee Chippy to Canada, which like the U.S. does not have a national fish-and-chips brand, Gorrie said.
Gorrie declined to reveal the company’s seafood suppliers, but The Wee Chippy “prides itself on sustainability and responsible business practices,” the company said in a press release. The chain aims to produce zero to little food waste and recycles its cooking oil by offering it to biofuel companies. Additionally, it uses all recyclable products in its kitchen and dining rooms.
Another up-and-coming seafood restaurant chain setting its sights on expansion is SEA Crab House, based in Bend, Oregon, U.S.A. The full-service restaurant is planning to open 25 locations by 2025, the company said in a press release.
The restaurant chain, which focuses on seafood boils infused with Southeast Asian flavors, recently opened a location in Boise, Idaho, U.S.A. – the company’s fifth location, and it plans to open a restaurant in Bellevue, Washington, U.S.A., in the fall.
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Photo courtesy of The Wee Chippy