City chippy back open with new manager at the helm

Photo Neil Cross'Keith Clokey and Nathan Towers of Quays Fish and Chips, Aldcliffe Place, Lancaster
Photo Neil Cross'Keith Clokey and Nathan Towers of Quays Fish and Chips, Aldcliffe Place, Lancaster

A family run business in Lancaster has a new manager at the helm.

Quays Fish and Chip Shop, formerly Aldcliffe Stores, opened in January 2015, but illness forced owners Keith and Helen Clokey to close the doors again in August.

The couple, who owned and ran Aldcliffe Stores for nine years, have had a turbulent time recently, with Keith being diagnosed with tonsil cancer, and Helen battling an abdominal infection.

But they have pulled through, and have now employed Nathan Towers to manage their new venture, which re-opened in December.Keith said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Nathan to the business. He has the experience needed to get Quays back open for business and running smoothly and is already coming up with ideas for future development of the menu.”

Nathan has a long history in the take away food industry including working at his brother’s fish and chip shop in Bolton-le-Sands and his father’s take away in Lancaster.

“We’re both determined to put the last couple of years behind us, although it’s been tough it could have been a lot worse. Thanks to the fantastic treatment we both received from the NHS we are looking forward to a healthy future and to seeing how Nathan and his team can develop Quays to its full potential.” Keith said he had no choice but to close Aldcliffe Stores in January 2014 after competition from supermarkets left the business unviable.

“We had to refocus at this point and decided our best option was to convert the building to create a new business,” he said.

“The rest of 2014 was spent achieving change of use for the building, raising finance and carrying out extensive renovations to create the new chip shop.

“Getting the doors open was a huge achievement for us after the struggles of the previous year and we were overwhelmed, literally, by the number of people through the door which gave us a massive lift.”

Quays, formally Aldcliffe Stores has been owned by the couple for the last nine and a half years.

In January 2014 the convenience store closed its doors for the last time after competition from supermarkets left the business unviable. After a hectic couple of weeks trading Keith underwent surgery to remove what was thought to be a large cyst in his neck. Unfortunately, three weeks later the lump was found to contain cancerous cells and after extensive testing he was ultimately diagnosed with tonsil cancer.

Keith’s wife Helen and a hardworking team of young staff managed to keep the shop open through the first stages of Keith’s treatment. Keith was vital to the structure of the business so it was a huge undertaking to try and keep such a new venture trading.

Ultimately Keith underwent a total of four surgeries and a six week course of daily radiotherapy and weekly chemotherapy. However, as the effects of the treatment took its toll and he needed more care the shop opening hours were reduced to weekends only.

By late August Keith was beginning to recover from the treatment and disaster struck again. Helen was admitted to hospital undergoing emergency surgery for an abdominal infection. “we really wondered what next? we were both just flopped on the sofa waiting to recover. We couldn’t have coped without amazing family support but obviously at this point there was no choice but to close the doors on Quays and focus on getting back to health.”

Keith has still not completely recovered from treatment so this week the fryers are been fired up by new manager Nathan.