C-Lovers Fish & Chips

Reeling in the Customers

The Clover family launched C-Lovers Fish & Chips in Coquitlam B.C. in 1984. In 1995 Brad Macleod and his partner Rick Schindelka opened their C-Lovers Fish & Chips restaurant, following Clovers’ mantra of top quality and menu simplicity. “In 1996 my business partner [Rick Schindelka] and I got involved with Mike and Cheryl Clover – the founders of the restaurant – and we opened a location in Langley. Prior to that, of course, we were regular customers of the restaurant.

Four years ago the Clovers retired and we took over the operation,” says Macleod. Macleod and Schindelka took over the C-Lovers Fish & Chips brand, and turned it into an up and coming franchise. Today, the franchise has 11 locations in B.C., and plans to stick to the basics of what made the original restaurant succeed — a simple fare made from quality ingredients.

Since its door opened in 1984, C-Lovers Fish & Chips has been dedicated to creating a unique customer experience, offering exceptional down to earth service, quality ingredients and competitive prices. C-Lovers modern and family friendly atmosphere with open concept kitchens adds to the familiarity to the multitude of loyal patrons, friends and families, creating not just a dinner experience, but creating a neighbourly experience.

“A big part of our customer base is regular customers. If you come and watch our take out counter, you’ll see regular customers. Our staff knows their name and the customers know the staff. Our staff even knows customers’ orders,” says Macleod.

The food service is a tough business, but Macleod does not worry about the competition due to the simplicity of the ideas behind C-Lovers’ menu, quality, and unbridled enthusiasm for its quality food offering from the side of the customers. The C-Lovers’ customers can expect traditional, simple menus, rather than a jumble of dishes that try to please everyone.

“The quality of product is paramount for us. We stick with what we know. All we do is fish and chips. Many places diversify their menu and they don’t concentrate on one thing. We do not go out chasing trends. The halibut and chips you ate in the original C-Lovers location in 1984 is exactly the same in 2013 in all of our locations. We do what we know, and we do it better than anybody else out there. We cut fish in-house; we cut our fresh kennebec potatoes for our chips every day; our chowder is made from scratch — everything is made to order, not pre-made,” says Macleod.

The C-Lovers menu is exactly what one would expect from a Fish & Chips restaurant: thinly battered, generous cuts of halibut, haddock, cod, prawns and chicken, with the side of hand cut chips and fresh coleslaw, and offering of appetizers such as onion rings, mushroom, zucchini, prawns and popcorn shrimp. The restaurant also offers all you can eat fish & chips [and bottomless pop].

C-Lovers takes its time to source and deliver superior quality ingredients and offer patrons the freshest products available on the market. From hand selected Alaskan halibut to the locally grown farm fresh kennebec potatoes, all dishes at C-Lovers are prepared daily and made fresh to order.

Seafood catch is a seasonal affair, so the company broker handles purchasing of the best and the freshest catch available on the market. “Our halibut comes in as a whole 40 to 60 pound fish. We cut and portion them in-house before freezing so we can control the quality of the product. Also, we buy local as much as possible — Alaskan halibut, West Coast cod, oysters, and B.C. potatoes. We try to buy direct. We also stick with quality condiments rather than switching to the generic labels,” says Macleod.

The commitment to quality shows in numbers. In 2012, C-Lovers’ sales increased by eight per cent, and according to Macleod, the average C-Lovers location serves 55,000 pounds of fish and 150,000 pounds of potatoes a year.

Every December, C-Lovers’ “It’s Prawn Madness” promotion rises funding for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Its Prawn Madness gives customers the opportunity to purchase a prawn add-on dish – four delicately battered prawns for only $1.99 – and C-Lovers donates $1 from each dish to the Foundation and BC Children’s Hospital. In 2012, the restaurant served about 150,000 prawns, and since 2003 donated $86,000 to the Foundation.

The company plans to grow its business organically, and is choosy about franchisees and business partners. “The customer is the most important in the restaurant business, so a franchisee needs to be a self-starter, hard-working people person, and definitely self-driven. These are the key attributes. Having a background in the restaurant business is a plus, but anyone with customer service experience is a good candidate.”

The company is looking to open two new locations in White Rock and Maple Ridge, and also launched C-Lovers Chip Truck to deliver C-Lovers delicious, fresh fare across Metro Vancouver. Macleod sees the future of C-Lovers Fish & Chips in a slow and steady growth with continued focus on British Columbia.