Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Queen Lizzy’s Fish and Chip Shop
125 E. Tenth Street
Tuesday-Wednesday: 11:30 a.m to 10 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Sunday: noon to 8 p.m.
For more information: www.facebook.com/QueenLizzys
Being laid off may well turn out to be a jumping-off point in the stateside life of Matt Poulton.
A chef of 14 years, Poulton found himself jobless after the Tenth Street Vegetarian Bistro shut down for the second time a month ago.
But instead of heading home to whip up some comfort food, he whipped up a business plan.
Soon, he presented it to Nancy Nguyen, owner of The Orient and landlord to the bistro’s space, 125 E. Tenth St. The plan was simple: bring proper pub fare to Lawrence.
The result: Queen Lizzy’s Fish and Chip Shop.
The shop opened its doors for a soft opening this week, with a true grand opening set for Oct. 29. On the menu: fish and chips, of course, but also battered sausage (an English banger dipped in beer batter), bacon butters (sandwiches) and traditional steak and kidney pie. He’s also planning to keep the trappings as authentic as possible, although the long-term tradition of serving fish and chips in newspaper isn’t legal here, or in Britain for that matter.
“They stopped that maybe 10 years ago. What you can get in the U.K. now is culinary paper that looks like newspapers,” he says, adding he’s going to be lining newspapers with culinary paper in lieu of buying the printed stuff. “I’m actually waiting for some British tabloid newspapers to be sent over to me from the U.K.”
What won’t be there? Beer, for now, as with just a month to put the restaurant together, Poulton hasn’t had time to request a liquor license. The restaurant will have a corking service for now and Poulton thinks the lack of on-tap alcohol will work just fine in the interim for his target closing hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays of 3 a.m.
“What we’re aiming to catch is more people coming out of the bars on the way home,” he says.
Coming across the pond
Poulton settled in the United States permanently after meeting his wife, Kate, back home in England. A Lawrence native, Kate persuaded her Surrey-bred husband to head to the U.S.
“I had actually seen it before I moved here — I knew what I was getting into,” he says of a 2007 trip to Lawrence. “And, really, you know, it’s not that different. The money’s a different color, but that’s about it. You still go to work and pay your mortgage.”
A longtime chef, Poulton worked as a “fixer” — someone hired to help failing pubs — for years before opening his own catering company. He shuttered his business before moving here with Kate and the first job he was able to land was at Kansas University.
“I moved over here and as soon as I got my work permit, I got a job at KU Dining. That was a bit of a culture shock,” he says, admitting, “It was a bit awkward having to work for somebody else again.”
After a year he started on with the redone bistro. After six months, when he learned it was closing, friends began to urge him to do his native food.
“A few people I know in the area were like, ‘Why don’t we open a fish and chip place?’ — I didn’t know if it would work down here. So, I started doing a bit of research and I got some positive feedback about it,” he says. “I thought, you know, it does bear some more looking into.”
To make the business happen, he turned to the idea jump-starting site IndieGoGo.com to help him raise seed money. Clearly Lawrencians are eager because he’s raised nearly $5,000 in contributions.
“It has been hugely successful,” Poulton says of the IndieGoGo approach, which he considers a “dry run” to gage true interest in the restaurant outside of his circle.
Robin Slicer was happy to throw a few bucks Poulton’s way. Having met him on his first trip to Lawrence four years ago, she’s eaten gobs of his food and was eager for him to showcase it.
“I’ve had the food from his wedding (which he catered), I went to Tenth Street Vegetarian Bistro when he was chef there, we had Christmas with him last year and he made a traditional pudding for us there. It was tasty,” the Olathe resident says. “But I have not had his fish and chips yet.”
She might get to try several other British foods beyond the signature dish and the starter menu. Poulton says he hopes that once he’s got more staff in place that he can open for a proper English breakfast — beans, eggs and the whole nine yards — plus scones, tea and other tasty morning nibbles to bookend his plans for a late-night, post-bar atmosphere Thursday through Saturday. Though, he says, he’ll be staying away from true British curries for now as not to upset his neighbor, India Palace.
Slicer thinks even without the neo-British curries, Lawrence will fall hook, line and sinker for an idea she thinks could really work here.
“I would love it to be a real hangout for Anglophiles, for people who just want a nice place that has a more traditional pub feel,” she says. “Just a good hangout that’s not going to be crazy or your traditional bar-type hangout — with lots of tasty food.”
— Staff writer Sarah Henning can be reached at 832-7187.