How this chippy in Meanwood is hoping to help a 91-year-old relive her childhood
The owner of a fish and chip shop is hoping to stand the test of time and win the approval of a 91-year-old customer who used to visit the establishment when she was a child.
Andy Crombleholme took over Kirby’s of Meanwood in March 2020, just before the first coronavirus lockdown.
Recently, the chippy in Leeds received a letter from Marjorie Whitehead saying that it was great to see the shop still in the same place, doing the same thing and that she misses the days of getting chips with scraps when she was a child.
With the business celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Mr Crombleholme is hoping to extend an invitation to Ms Whitehead, who now lives in Chapel Allerton, to get her to see what Kirby’s is like under his custodianship.
Mr Crombleholme said: “Unfortunately, she can’t get out much now. It’s something she said she would love to do. I’ve got her phone number, I am going to try and get in touch with her.
“I can go pick her up at some point, once we’re a bit safer with Covid again. Get her some fish and chips or take some fish and chips up to her house so that she can see that the quality that we do here is what she got all those years ago.
“We’ve won a couple of food awards since we’ve been here so I want to show what we can do compared to what it was like then as well.”
The fish and chip shop was originally founded by the Kirby family. It is still at the same site in Meanwood where it has always been with the building owned by Robert Kirby - the grandson of the original founder.
Mr Crombleholme has been involved in the industry for over 20 years. He started working at fish and chip shops from the age of 15, rising quickly through the ranks to manage sites for businesses with more than one shop.
When he was 23, Mr Crombleholme bought his own shop in Wortley. However, he always had one eye on Kirby’s, which had a reputation for being a “good business”.
The business has been through a few different hands since the Kirby family ran it. Mr Crombleholme took over with hopes to restore the shop to its “former glory”. But within three weeks of taking over, the pandemic forced the first national lockdown.
Mr Crombleholme said: “My biggest challenge was the pandemic hitting three weeks after we took over because we then had to close for four weeks.
“In that period we had a website built, we had social media set up and we had a click and collect system integrated into our website.
“We literally had to roll the dice and go for it. It’s been a blessing in a lot of respects that the pandemic hit because it gave us the chance over those four weeks that we were shut to get these things done and bring us up to date.
“It was a huge challenge but we have embraced it and we’re coming out of the other side of it stronger.”
His hope is now to expand Kirby's with a string of shops across Leeds. Mr Crombleholme also wants to mark the centenary by hosting events through the year.