72 years of having a feed at Ches’s Famous Fish and Chips
Posted on August 25, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
For many Newfoundlanders in the mood for fries with dressing and gravy, a fin and feather combo or classic fish and chips, Ches’s is the place to satisfy their craving. Approaching a century in operation, the family-owned business that started as a single restaurant now has multiple locations within the province and has dubbed itself ‘famous’ for its signature dish.
The beginning of Ches’s Famous Fish and Chips dates back to 1951 when Ches Barbour and his wife Betty opened a snack bar on Harvey Road in downtown St. John’s, N.L. In the early days of the business, Barbour would get up early in the morning to catch fish. He’d sell some fillets at the local market and use the rest to prepare homemade fish and chips before the lunchtime rush. To this day, Ches’s continues to use fresh fish (when available), hand-peeled potatoes and other ingredients prepared from scratch for their menu of classic comfort foods.
Growing the business
As demand for their fish and chips grew, in 1958 Ches and Betty decided to close their original location and move to a larger building on Freshwater Road. This has since become their landmark location, which still stands today with an adjoining dining room. A decade later, the family expanded to a second restaurant in downtown St. John’s but were forced to close and sell the building soon after to make room for construction of the Trans Canada Highway.
When Ches and Betty began making the transition to retirement in the late ‘80s, their son Bob and daughter Kathy started to take over the business. Seeing the need for another location, the siblings opened a Ches’s Fish and Chips on Topsail Road in 1987 and a third location in Mount Pearl in 1990. In 1999, a fourth Ches’s restaurant was opened by long-time employee Sylvia Emberly, so she could move from manager to franchise owner.
Having built a local reputation for quality fish and chips, Ches’s wanted to find a way to showcase that to newcomers. So, they developed a certificate for tourists and those who visit the restaurant for the first time to validate that they’ve tried ‘the finest fish and chips to be found in all of Newfoundland and Labrador’, according to the fine print. To make things official, the certificate is personalized with the customer’s name and signed by their server.
Today, Ches’s is still a go-to spot for Newfoundlanders looking for a plate of fish and chips. Now with five locations across the province from St. John’s to Bay Roberts, the family business has come a long way since the ‘50s.
Still serving classic comfort food, 72 years later.
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