​Beyond the Fryer: John Molnar's Vision for The Cod's Scallops

​Beyond the Fryer: John Molnar's Vision for The Cod's Scallops

Posted by Emma on 2nd Mar 2024

In this engaging episode 146 of the Ceres Podcast, we reconnect with John Molnar, the force behind The Cod's Scallops. With outlets spread across Nottingham and an outpost in Harborne, Birmingham, John shares his journey since our last conversation in episode 45 in February 2020, just after The Cod's Scallops was crowned Fish & Chip Shop of the Year.

John reflects on the significant impact of the award and discusses the unique position of being the last winner under the Seafish banner, a title extended due to unforeseen circumstances. He also touches upon the potential of entering the new NFFF fish & chip awards.

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Managing the expansion of The Cod's Scallops has not been without its challenges, especially against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis. John shares insights into the performance of his outlets, the tough decisions around site closures, and the operational nuances of managing a restaurant group spread across the East Midlands and Birmingham. The conversation delves into menu pricing strategies amidst fluctuating commodity prices and employment costs and the balancing act of menu development to maintain efficiency and customer satisfaction.

A significant pivot discussed is the switch from traditional beef dripping to rapeseed oil, which sparked considerable customer backlash on social media. John candidly discusses the reasons behind the change, the challenges of achieving a comparable crispy finish, and the customer response, leaving the door open to future adjustments based on customer preference and health trends.

The episode also explores changes in dining habits post-COVID, with shifts in lunch versus evening trade and increased delivery services. John talks about plans for expansion, the intricacies of running a central prep unit, and the importance of investment and cash flow in sustaining growth. Staff retention, recruitment, and training are critical to maintaining high standards across the outlets.

John shares personal insights on achieving a work-life balance amidst the demands of managing multiple sites and addresses potential external threats to the business. This conversation is a deep dive into the operational and strategic aspects of running a successful restaurant group and a testament to John's passion, resilience, and commitment to serving top-quality fish & chips and seafood.

Listeners, especially those interested in the culinary business, entrepreneurship, and the nuances of navigating the restaurant industry in challenging times, will find this episode both enlightening and inspiring. Join us on this journey with John Molnar to discover the blend of tradition, innovation, and unwavering dedication that makes The Cod's Scallops a distinguished name.

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