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Scotts Fish And Chips Of York To Open Replica In China


We're going to let Englishman Tony Webster introduce himself now.

TONY WEBSTER: Ni hao (ph).

SHAPIRO: He's saying hello in Chinese for a good reason. Webster is the proud owner of Scotts Fish and Chips near the historic city of York, England, and it is on the map for Chinese visitors.

WEBSTER: We basically find ourselves very attractive to Chinese tourists. They actually want to have fish and chips.


Chinese diners come at the rate of about a hundred a week. Tony Webster explained the draw to us over Skype.

WEBSTER: There's two interests, I think, for the Chinese in fish and chips. One is it's quintessentially English, so almost like afternoon tea. But also the fact their president had fish and chips with a pint of beer with the U.K. prime minister at the time.

CORNISH: The president he's referring to is Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited former Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2015.


SHAPIRO: This video of him sharing fish and chips at an English pub went viral in China. No, that pub was not Scotts Fish and Chips, but it doesn't matter. Tony Webster saw the writing on the wall, and he flung his doors open for the Chinese tourist buses.

WEBSTER: Last year, we decided we would translate all our menus into Chinese and embrace the Chinese culture in terms of how they interact and communicate. So for example, if they go in the restaurant now, they can scan a QR code with their WeChat social media app and, immediately, the menu appears in Mandarin on their tablet or on their phone.

CORNISH: And that set the stage for Scotts Fish and Chips to go truly international. Last year, Chinese businessmen approached Tony Webster with a deal. They wanted to open a Scotts in Chengdu. It's a city of 14 million people in China's Sichuan province, known for its spicy food. A deal was hammered out. Land was bought and plans made to open the branch of Scotts in August.

WEBSTER: They're taking advice from us on how to prepare the fish, what the batter mix is. The interesting thing will be, I think, that they will, obviously, tailor some of the taste of the menu items to the local taste. For example, we had some people in the - in our restaurant in York last week actually from Chengdu. They brought with them a little sachet of chili powder and spice.

SHAPIRO: And when the new Scotts Fish and Chips opens in Chengdu, Tony Webster plans to be there to greet diners and practice his Chinese.

WEBSTER: Zaijian (ph).

CORNISH: That's goodbye. Webster says we've heard the extent of the words he knows in Chinese. We imagine he'll get to know many more.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARQUIS HAWKES' "LIGHT OF MY LIFE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.