Fish and chips was common fare when Matthew Taylor was growing up in Newfoundland.
That might seem obvious on the East Coast, but Taylor’s experience went beyond going out to eat fish and chips. His grandmother ran, and still runs, a fish and chips restaurant there.
“That’s where I was taught how to fillet fish and where I learned the tricks of the trade,” Taylor said.
He moved to Ontario as a young boy, but would be back in his grandma’s kitchen every time he went home.
That experience is paying off. After opening Just for the Halibut in Wasaga Beach, he and co-owner Josh MacCarl set their sights on Orillia. They opened Fin City Fish and Chips in April and held a grand opening last weekend.
“Business has been really good. We’ve had to bring in an extra fryer and more seating,” Taylor said, noting even more seating, including a patio area, is on the way.
The business has not done any formal advertising. It relies on word of mouth and its Facebook page, and it seems to be working. Customers are hooked.
“It’s because we’re putting out a good product and all of our staff are very customer focused,” Taylor said, adding the fish is not frozen and is filleted on site.
Located at the corner of James Street and Forest Avenue, in the former home of BJ's Restaurant, Fin City is near a residential neighbourhood where dining options are few. That has contributed to the restaurant’s early success, Taylor said.
He is open to suggestions from customers, too. In response to demand, Fin City hired a breakfast chef and began serving breakfast about a month ago.
Staples such as cod, pickerel and halibut, Fin City’s specialty, are on the menu along with trout, scallops and other items, but Fin City still plans to “diversify” its offerings. Perch will soon be on the menu, and Taylor hopes to have some sort of feature to coincide with next year’s Orillia Perch Festival.
Fin City also offers gluten-free options, as well as pan-fried fish. Taylor realizes not everyone likes battered fish, but he said there have been some converts after diners have tried his grandma’s batter recipe.
“I have to give credit to my grams,” he said.
Find out more about Fin City on its Facebook page.