If you haven’t visited a Rockfish yet, add Rockfish Weymouth to your list of places to visit this summer! The restaurant opened last August (which you can read about on the blog here) & I’ve had the pleasure to visit a number of times & in actual fact Rockfish was the last place I had dinner before lockdown.
Rockfish co-founder Mitch Tonks took time out of his busy re-opening schedule to share the latest news on Rockfish & the Weymouth restaurant.
First off, how are you & the team all doing?
It’s been a great time to slow down actually. I’ve been lucky enough to have several of my children nearby too (all grown up) and has meant spending time with them which I’ve really valued. My eldest daughter Sadie is a yoga teacher, so I’ve also been able to practice and feel the benefits that brings. We’ve had lots of times together round the table eating, drinking and talking, the best way to spend time listening, talking and laughing.
What did you do to keep yourselves occupied during lockdown? I enjoyed seeing some of the pop ups in Brixham on social.
We had time to reflect on the business, review what had been working, what we wanted to continue and what ideas would still work in the new coronavirus world. Plus, some things we’ve been wanting to do but not yet been able to, like opening a fishmongers in Brixham and being able to deliver fresh fish for customers via the restaurants – some exciting stuff.
For 3 months myself and the team had daily video calls working through all the changes we had to deal with, communicating with staff on this too and we’ve been able to retain 100% of our team, which has meant a lot to me.
We also did some producer sales, connecting farmers and other suppliers direct to our customers, because of lockdown restrictions this meant we could only really do this from Brixham. Myself and some of the team volunteered to run them – it was amazing and people seemed to love them. All the money went to the suppliers and producers, it wasn’t for us, so it was great to do something positive. There were asparagus and vegetable farmers whose produce would be going to waste otherwise.
We also did a sale of fresh fish from fisherman Nick Rich, who catches our fish. People were so positive about it. We even held a fish and chip takeaway on VE night and raised money for the local Dartmouth charities too. That kind of thing has kept us busy.
What is the latest news with the Rockfish openings?
Plymouth opened a couple of weeks ago with a new fantastic outdoor covered deck as well as reorganised space inside, it is a great site and feedback on the measures we have put in place is really positive too. Exmouth and Poole reopen on 22nd July, the Dartmouth takeaway on Monday 20th and then 29th July we’re opening Exeter, Weymouth and Dartmouth restaurants followed by Brixham and Torquay. Watch this video on how things are working.
How has the Plymouth re-opening gone down?
Really well. It was good to open one at a time and make sure we’d really got everything covered to keep our customers happy and feel reassured. We’ve had to make changes of course, reduced the menu, for outside we have an order and pay app etc.
People really understand and of course we still want to deliver the Rockfish magic. We want to remind people why they loved eating out, the hospitality, the social space and connection it gives them in the community and with friends and family.
Obviously, we all would love to welcome you back to Weymouth as soon as it’s safe to do so, do you have any dates in the plan for re-opening?
Have you been developing anything new & exciting for Rockfish & the future?
We’ve opened an outside space on the Embankment in Dartmouth for the Seahorse restaurant, Seahorse al Mare and this has been very well received. So well in fact that we’ve had to extend the hours into lunchtimes for it just a week after opening!
Plus, the fishmonger idea as mentioned earlier and we’ve collaborated with Salcombe Brewery who are making our beer and cider. We’re looking at the idea of a tap room in Plymouth with them and something in Salcombe down the line. It’s important we get this phase right though, there is a lot of uncertainty out there and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing that customers love and that staff feel a real sense of purpose doing.
How can loyal fans and customers support Rockfish?
Come back and visit us! We’d love to do what we love doing again – helping create great memorable experiences for guests where they can relax and enjoy, celebrate friendships and special events in their lives and feel like there is something great in their community to continue to enjoy during these strange times.
Following and sharing our social media stuff is fabulous too, it gives us great interaction and certainly guests who share and repost things tell a wider audience about us which really helps.