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A fish and chip shop is an outlet that mainly sells the dish fish and chips. It is usually a takeaway operation, although some have limited seating facilities.
Other variations on the fish and chip shop name include fish bar, fish shop, chip shop and the colloquial “chippy”. In Ireland they are known as “chippers”.
Fish and chip shops may also sell other foods, including variations on their core offering such as battered sausage and burgers, to regional cuisine such as Chinese food.
Many villages, suburbs, towns and cities have fish and chip shops, especially near coastal regions.
Fish and chip outlets sell roughly 25% of all the white fish consumed in the United Kingdom, and 10% of all potatoes.
Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in England in about the same period: the Oxford English Dictionary notes as its earliest usage of “chips” in this sense the mention in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (published in 1859): “Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”.
The modern fish-and-chip shop (“chippy” or “chipper” in modern English slang originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated by a coal fire. The fish-and-chip shop later evolved into a fairly standard format, with the food served, in paper wrappings, to queuing customers, over a counter behind which the fryers were located.
The dish became popular in wider circles in London and South East England in the middle of the 19th century: Charles Dickens mentions a “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist, first published in 1838, while in the north of England a trade in deep-fried chipped potatoes developed. The first chip shop stood on the present site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market. It remains unclear exactly when and where these two trades combined to become the fish-and-chip shop industry we know. A Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, opened the first recorded combined fish-and-chip shop in London in 1860 or in 1865; a Mr Lees pioneered the concept in the North of England, in Mossley, in 1863.
The concept of a fish restaurant, as opposed to take-away, was introduced by Samuel Isaacs (born 1856 in Whitechapel, London; died 1939 in Brighton, Sussex) who ran a thriving wholesale and retail fish business throughout London and the South of England in the latter part of the 19th century. Isaacs’ first restaurant opened in London in 1896 serving fish and chips, bread and butter, and tea for nine pence, and its popularity ensured a rapid expansion of the chain.