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Chipping Wharf: paying homage to the original East End chippie

The birthplace of one of the nation’s favourite take-aways, Old Ford welcomes a return of a traditional fish and chip shop, Chipping Wharf.

Our little corner of London has a long history that connects it to the water and its this heritage that has hugely influenced its love for seafood cuisine. So much so, that Old Ford boasted the UK’s first ever chippie, Malin’s. It opened in 1860 and closed just over a century later, in the 70s.

But now, a brand new fish ‘n’ chip shop, with 19th century influences, has dived onto the scene…

Chipping Wharf is to open this early August on the site of the former Old Ford Café, opening just in time for those hazy summer days spent strolling along the canal and meandering around Vicky Park.

Set up by Mustafa Has, the brains behind the lively Cafe East and Bethnal Green’s Juice Trap, Chipping Wharf will be the latest in Has’ ever-expanding empire of eateries. 

His vision for a local fish and chip shop came about, yep you guessed it, during lockdown. With extra time on his hands, Has said he researched various fish and chip shops in London and began to think that a similar version could be set up here. After leasing the site of the former cafe since October 2021, his team of Bow builders has transformed the building into a proper traditional chippie. 

Has said his vision for Chipping Wharf is to ‘treat Victoria Park like an imaginary beachfront’. He said he envisages people ordering their fish supper and taking it to the Park. Or, if they want to sit in, then they have a choice between the seaside inspired seating inside or the outside side terrace. 

Keen to keep a ‘cosy traditional seaside feel’, Has said the waterside inspired theme has influenced his choice of interiors. 

Taking inspiration from a bygone era of seaside cafés, he’s chosen brass fittings, brass lighting, and a chess-board tiled flooring. On the white washed walls are dark blue arches that Has said, when doing his research, Victorians seemed to love. His goal is ‘to make the place feel very homely, like you’re in a Victorian household almost.’ 

two empty fish and chip boxes with fish on tissue paper, Chipping Wharf, Old Ford, East London
Has has lead on Chipping Wharf’s branding. Photo courtesy of Mustafa Has

With a degree in graphic design from Central Saint Martins, Has turned his skillful hand to branding. He also employed Roman Road’s Luminor Sign Co. to create the shop’s sign, as he had done for Cafe East and Juice Trap.

But the true worth of the shop will be in its food. He said his hope is to offer ‘a great British fish and chip experience.’ He will source seafood from Billingsgate Market, and potatoes from Essex and use his current suppliers for Cafe East. He said he is eager to keep the menu simple, but offer a few special options including fish burger and crab roll. 

Having built up such a popular community cafe on Roman Road and seeing the value it adds to the area, community is at the heart of everything that Has does. He said he sees this new venture as part of families’ evening routines, where they pick up children from school and wander to Chipping Wharf for a fish supper. Or, as a place where friends and neighbours might head to for a catch up, and walk along the canal or to Vicky Park. 

And while he’s thinking of the shop’s future success, Has looked to the past for motivation.

After learning that Malin’s was set up mere metres from his latest venture, Has said that it gave him ‘that little extra motivation and as a sign this is meant to be.’

Malin on Old Ford Road in Bow, the first fish and chip shop in the UK established 1860
Malin, the first ever fish and chip shop in the UK, established in 1860

If you enjoyed this article, then read our piece on Ona’s Bento Sushi Bar.

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