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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Alison Blyth, Founder and Owner of Go Fish and Go Brit Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Alison Blyth

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Alison Blyth started her career in the restaurant industry after moving from England to Washington D.C in 1980. She worked in a number of restaurants and gained knowledge of the industry from the day-to-day operations in the establishments she worked in. By 1988, Alison had her first venture in restaurant entrepreneurship in opening her first restaurant, La La Land in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. La La Land earned the title of “Best Restaurant in Delaware” by the Wilmington News Journal a mere ten weeks after opening its doors. 

Seven years and numerous awards later Alison sold the business, took two years off and then re-invented another restaurant space in Rehoboth into a Pan Asian bistro called Yum Yum. Alison’s creative eye earned her the title of “design goddess” from The Washington Post’s food critic, who raved about the décor of the restaurant and its cutting edge Asian cuisine. Her creativity continues to the venues she owns today which have the clearest concepts ever with not only the most appropriate decor but also the most fun and comfortable. 

In March 2002, Alison invested in a small building on the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue which housed a small Italian Ice take out with an apartment above which is the location of Go Fish! today. A month later she opened her third food service venture in this space as a take- out fish and chips shop. After a successful summer and demand from customers to be open year round, she demolished the interior of the building back to the walls and created a 40-seat full-service restaurant with a takeout window. She expanded the menu to include a seafood menu and a small bar to compliment the traditional fish and chip shop fare that she grew up on. 

Go Fish is now in its ninth year and has enjoyed a 20 -25% steady increase for each year it has been in business due to Alison's expert skills as a restaurateur, her business acumen and her sparkling personality. In 2009 sales were up 35%. Expected sales for this year will pass the million dollar mark. Go Fish was highly recommended by Whom You Know: Go Brit is its sister restaurant.

Now with 30 years in the food service industry, Alison has learned that staying with the times is crucial. She constantly attends business seminars and looks for ways to market her enterprises creatively, employing great negotiating tactics in marketing which has increased revenue. As her business has increased, so has her buying power, enabling her to be a favored client for vendors. Alison thinks outside the box and responds to challenges by making better products when importing becomes impossible. She knows that to establish yourself as the authority with your concept, the Internet helps tremendously and she is currently focusing on exposing her businesses via the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, which are key to success. We are absolutely thrilled to present Alison as our latest Mover and Shaker. Peachy Deegan interviewed Alison Blyth for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
What should everyone know about England that they might not know yet?
Alison Blyth: 
Fish and chips are the number one takeout food in the UK!

What should everyone know about Fish and Chips and your Fish and Chips in particular?
Authentic British Fish and Chips are made by peeling and chipping fresh potatoes daily. The fish is hand dipped in a delicious batter. At go fish! and go brit! we prepare our Fish and Chips in the traditional way, there's nothing frozen or precooked about our food.

What is the difference between British Fish and Chips and American Fish and Chips?
It is difficult to find a real "chip" in the USA. Typically you find you are served French fries or a steak fries....British chips are a certain size and peeled all the way, they are thicker and more "potatoey" than French Fries. Often the US experiments with different fish rather than sticking to a fish in the Cod or Haddock family.

Tell everyone the difference between a chip and a French fry please.
British chips are a certain size and peeled all the way, they are thicker and more "potatoey" than French fries.

Please comment on fresh versus frozen.
You cannot compare the taste difference between a fresh potato that has been cooked out of the box versus pulling a frozen precooked fry out of a freezer. Fresh chips have a stellar flavor and the texture is far superior.

What would surprise most people about being a restaurant owner?
The "back of the house", which is everything behind the kitchen’s the heart of the restaurant where systems and highly trained staff have to be in place in order to survive!!

What would surprise most people about being a design goddess?
The license to think outside the box, how fun is that!!

You also lived in Bermuda-what did you like about it there and what should we all know about it?
Bermuda is an artist's palate, the gorgeous colors of the turquoise water and pink sand are so incredibly beautiful, it's hard to think that any artist could compete with Mother Nature to replicate it. I got to ride my scooter to work every day and take in that sight for 30 minutes, no better way to start the day!

You've told us about your pal Hoda Kotb-what should everyone know about her that they don't yet and can you ask her to return Peachy's tweets please @Manhattanpeachy?
Hoda is incredibly real, she is smart, sensitive, funny, and super to be around. She is more beautiful in person when you meet her. It's that BIG heart of hers. And she really doesn't drink as portrayed on The Today show. I've yet to serve her a glass of wine! Hoda is a great fan of go fish! and go brit! She and her family enjoy most of their meals with us on their visits to Rehoboth.

You are one of the most passionate entrepreneurs we've met. What do you love about what you do?
Making people happy and providing opportunities for people to grow with me. I also love the creative aspect of the process. Owning your own business is tricky but so fun to be at the helm, it's limitless!

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
As a young child definitely my parents, they were poor but near perfect and I had a loving childhood. My Dad raised me to make my own decisions but always guided me in the right way, at 85 he still inspires me! Along the way I have been inspired by amazingly talented people in the restaurant world, some were ex business partners and some were former employees or bosses, every once in a while you meet a star.

What are you proudest of and why?
Making it on my own....I left England at 19 with just a suitcase and never asked my parents to help me out, I have supported myself and my son (now 12) as a single mother. My business supports numerous families and that makes me proud. I also love maintaining and sharing my British side through my restaurants in the US.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Launch my franchise and teach and train others to run their own successful business. Also I would like to establish a charitable foundation on the back end of the royalties, possibly to support Single Entrepreneurial Women.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
My current and former restaurants have received many awards such as "Best Restaurant in Delaware"  numerous wine spectator awards and more recently "Best Fish and Chips" in Delaware.

What one word best describes you and why?
Passionate, about everything!! I'm 100 percent committed about everything I do, sometimes I drive myself crazy!

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? And England? And the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA?
Favourite place in Manhattan is Central Park, give me the trees any day! Covent Garden in the UK, love the stores and the street entertainment and out on the Delaware Bay on my sailboat in the Mid Atlantic.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? Century 21, what a blast to rummage through there
And England? Any one on the King's Road. And the Mid-Atlantic? No special favorite but we have some great farmers markets here.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? My ex-manager John Tatler, not famous but the greatest guy I ever worked with.

What is your favorite drink? 
 My daily dose of Aloe Juice, so healthy and delicious.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
I was in Manhattan in the garment district and was at a very nice event waiting to meet my friend's father who was the big wig of the event. I was wearing an extension ponytail and he slapped me on the back as I was introduced to him, the ponytail fell on the floor.......

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? And England? And the Mid-Atlantic?
I had a great meal at Union Square Café, a friend of mine worked there and I sat at the bar and enjoyed some nice appetizers. In England any of the numerous Indian restaurants, there are more Indian Restaurants than there are pubs in the Greater London area.
In the mid-Atlantic I love mostly ethnic food restaurants, too many to list.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? And England? And the Mid-Atlantic?
As for an author from Manhattan, I have enjoyed Oscar Hijuelos. Although his family is Cuban, he is a New Yorker by birth. He chronicles the lives of immigrants adapting to a new culture. In the Mid-Atlantic, we have very witty authors including Rich Barnett, who writes about Rehoboth Beach in a gently satirical way. I love all the classic British authors, especially Jane Austen.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
My Mum who passed away almost 20 years ago just to see her again and fill her in on all that's happened.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I am a supporter of single mothers and hope to do more to support them.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Visit our websites and and of course like us on Facebook.

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