Fin City Fish & Chips has rapidly grown since opening its doors at the corner of James Street and Forest Avenue in 2019. The local eatery has now expanded to 10 other markets around Ontario.
“The big reason for our success has been our customer service and our food,” says owner Matthew Taylor, who uses his grandma’s batter recipe that he loved while growing up in Newfoundland.
“It’s really taken off from when we started to try and compete in this community, and since we started expanding to places like Tiverton, Honey Harbour, Owen Sound and Stoney Creek,” Taylor explained.
Barrie is the next city that will be home to a Fin City in the near future, followed by Ottawa and Guelph.
“When we started in Orillia I knew I had a good product. Word of mouth was really helping our business, but I didn’t expect it to take off to the point where we are Canada’s newest franchise,” Taylor said.
When it comes to fish and chips, there are tons of locally-owned restaurants across the country, but very few franchises, he explained.
“Our goal is to have 50 locations by the end of summer, which is something we are on track for,” Taylor said.
While the pandemic has put lots of stress on local businesses and eateries around the world, Taylor says it has been a non-factor for him and Fin City.
“We opened six restaurants during the middle of the pandemic. I learned that if you make good food, and give good customer service people are going to come back,” he said.
“We did 35 percent better in the pandemic because there were a lot of bistros who were closed in the beginning and people didn’t want to pay $60 for a take-home meal, so people started trying new places, supporting local, and that’s where we really hit a home run," he explained.
Taylor has some background knowledge of running a franchise; he previously owned a Mr. Sub.
“I was able to take my knowledge from that part of the industry and apply it to fish and chips and the brand I have with Fin City,” he explained.
After hiring franchisees to run the other locations, Taylor has turned his focus to the Orillia location and overseeing his other eateries.
“I do bounce around the stores for quality control. When people visit one store they really want the brand to be consistent across the board,” he explained.
“The one thing I love about Fin City so far is every location that has been opened is the same. You can go look at Google reviews and people are saying the same things about all of our locations, and we are rated five stars across the app," he said with pride.
Taylor says without the support of the Orillia community, Fin City’s success would not be possible.
“This is my hometown. I love the customers here, and I feel like they are family,” he said.
“We recently painted our Orillia location, did some renovations, and we are having a grand reopening and a customer appreciation day this Saturday. We have a 'buy one, get one 50 per cent off' sale, and we are doing full dinners for $5," he said.