A subtle smell of fried food lingers in the air, enough to make your mouth start salivating. There’s chequerboard flooring and red-and-green canteen-style booths. The retro menu lists scampi, plaice, haddock, cod, skate, sausage, pickled onion, tartare sauce and, of course, mushy peas. Old clippings from American newspapers and wobbly children’s drawings dot the wood-panelled walls. A trip to The Fryer’s Delight – an old-school chippy in Holborn – is like a real step back in time.
It was opened by the Ferdenzi family from northern Italy in 1968. Thirty years later, its current owner, João Magalhães, took it over. ‘I’d already been working behind the counter for four years, so I decided to take out a bank loan to buy the shop,’ says Magalhães. ‘Now, I run it with my brother-in-law Osvaldo. One of the Ferdenzi brothers, Giuseppe, still works here, preparing the potatoes in the mornings.’
The pandemic and new parking rules mean the shop has lost a lot of its regular cabbie customers. Magalhães is working 12 hours a day, six days a week to keep things going. ‘We used to get a lot of office people, taxi drivers and tourists coming in,’ he says. ‘Now, it’s quiet. It’s important to keep on supporting independent takeaways like us.’
There’s a reason why this place has kept going for so long: it’s steeped in history. None of the fittings have changed since the shop opened – even the original logo of a bowler-hat-wearing fish, designed by another Ferdenzi brother, Robert, is still going strong. ‘The old style is what people come for,’ Magalhães says. ‘It’s part of the character.’
19 Theobalds Rd.