It’s 6 pm on a cold Monday evening and as students trudge home from uni, the deep fat fryer is beginning to sizzle in everyone’s favourite drunk food destination in preparation for a busy weeknight.
We are sat tucking into our complimentary cheesy chips and chocolate cake with Baz, the owner of Crispy Fish & Chips, his 18-year-old nephew Hevar, and his best friend Hawre to find out more about their tricks of the trade. Of Kurdish descent, Baz left his life and previous takeaway restaurant behind him in Devon and moved up to Leeds four years ago to take over Crispy. Although Crispy was up and running before Baz made his mark on it, the delicious food, customer service and swanky interior were all changes that he implemented on arrival.
As the owner, Baz describes himself as the most popular man in Crispy. His regular customers love him so much that some will even bring their parents to meet the man who has clearly made such an impact on them. Baz describes his local celebrity status as “nice, but hard sometimes”, particularly when socialising outside of work or when he is taking a break at the back and his presence is requested by his ever-growing fan base.
There is no doubt that Crispy Fish & Chips boasts the title of the best place to get cheesy chips after a night out. Baz himself attributes this to the excellent customer service, the music and the inexpensive yet delicious food. Crispy is not only known around Leeds for its great personalities behind the counter but also its after-hours disco. For this, we can thank his teenage nephew, Hevar, who Baz refers to as “the DJ man”. His personal playlist includes many Daddy Yankee hits and we were lucky enough to pause the interview and have a slightly awkward solo boogey to the Spanish song “Dura”, a favourite of Hevar’s. Baz tells us that whilst the addition of the disco and music has been very successful, he doesn’t have any plans to implement any new initiatives to date, with his success resulting from his charisma with customers and the atmosphere he promotes in Crispy.
When quizzing Baz on the best thing on the menu, he tells us it is the fish and chips or the meat feast pizza. Hawre, on the other hand, claims it is the renowned cheesy chips and gravy. For anyone wanting to replicate the gravy at home, Baz informs us that their recipe consists of just water and vegetarian gravy powder – simple, but effective. Whilst not hugely concerned by the environmental impact of their plastic forks and polystyrene cartons, Crispy more than makes up for their corporate social responsibility through its treatment towards the homeless. It is refreshing to know that Baz will always serve any customer who appears in need of a meal free of charge, filling the appetites of around 3 or 4 homeless people per day. Whilst Crispy encounters a lot of student customers asking for an extra portion of cheesy chips on the house, Baz tends to only grant them to the one hungry-looking person in the group who didn’t put in an order.
So, what does the future hold for Baz and Crispy Fish & Chips? Whilst Baz does have plans to move to a big house in Spain and settle down one day, at the moment he is happy serving his loving customers and working side-by-side with his family and best friends. For now, at least, it thankfully doesn’t look like Crispy will be going anywhere soon.