The Experience Journal: Poppies Fish & Chips, Spitalfields

Here at Faber, we believe the secret to success in the hospitality industry is the creation of a seamless experience—as opposed to a certain type of cuisine or decor. It occurs when a business knows exactly what it’s about, demonstrates it in every detail, and executes it consistently. We call this Immersive Hospitality™. And The Experience Journal puts a spotlight on venues that have achieved this to give readers an insight into what makes them special.

Poppies Fish & Chips in Spitalfields

This month, graphic designer Aimee Starbuck relives her visit to Poppies Fish & Chips in Spitalfields. It's a brilliant example of how a truly authentic story can provide the foundations for a stand-out venue in a saturated market.

Fish and Chips is a national dish so special it was exempt from rationing during World War II! This British staple is probably the nation’s most iconic meal, eaten the length and breadth of the Isles. It's even cockney rhyming slang for ‘hips’! And speaking of Cockneys, Poppies' late founder, Pat ‘Pop’ Newland was a true East Ender who began his decades-long fish and chip career (preparing newspaper to wrap portions in) at the age of eleven. Achieving his life-long ambition of owning his own shop, Poppies now has three venues across London and its own in-house fishmonger. A larger-than-life character, Pop’s story is weaved throughout this experience—from the shop name to the decor which pays homage to his childhood (much of which is memorabilia he personally collected over the years). Passing away in 2022, Pop's memory lives on through his incredible fish and chips legacy. 

Aimee’s Memory: “Before we even step in the door at Poppies, the experience begins…The long queue outside the traditional facade makes us wonder if we'll be able to get a seat, but it smells so good we stay in line to try our luck!" 

"At the front door we're greeted by a maitre d’ in a shirt and tieinstantly adding an unexpected twist to the experience of visiting a chip shop. We ask if there’s any chance of getting a table for three, expecting to be turned away. But to our delight, we’re told “of course there’s room for three!”. We follow him through the restaurant, squeezing between the tables to the back corner. And at a very small table for two, he suddenly conjures up another chair from somewhere so we all sit down”. 

“This might sound unpleasant—a back corner and a tiny table—actually, it’s anything but! We're immersed in the atmosphere of the place—surrounded by cockney rhyming slang painted onto the wall panelling and memorabilia everywhere. There's so much to soak in! Even the menus are full of stories in an almost newspaper style, giving guests an insight into the history of the chip shop and the people behind it: Pop the founder and Salih the in-house fishmonger”.  

Pop the founder
Salih the in-house fishmonger

“The table dressing is very simple—knife, fork, napkin, and condiments—yet it adds to the authentic feeling of the place. Even small details like the branded elements—plates, cups, saucers, jars, and coasters—help immerse you into the incredible atmosphere”. 

“Our order is taken at the table by a waitress dressed in a vintage-style uniform. It really feels like we've gone back in time at Poppies, in the best possible way! The fish and chips are served from behind the traditional counter at the front of the restaurant (which is also used by the takeaway customers). All the chefs wear aprons and paper hats printed with newsprint. And they also serve the takeaway chips in news printed paper”. 

“Once the food arrives, the experience only gets better. I’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips over the years and these are up there with the best! Crunchy and tasty battered fish served alongside golden and fluffy chips with a separate bowl of curry sauce. After we’ve finished, we feel welcome to sit for a while to take in the atmosphere (even though it’s still very busy). It’s a place you don't really want to leave... Every detail and step of the journey has been carefully considered and crafted; that's what makes a memorable immersive hospitality experience”. 

Faber and Company specialises in the design and creation of one-off, location-specific restaurants and hospitality venues. From our studio and workshops, we craft Immersive HospitalityTM experiences designed to engage with meaning and emotion. Don’t hesitate to call 0203 3938403 or email to find out how the team can help bring your vision to life!

Visit Poppies Fish & Chips Website

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