Michael is cooking up a storm with new business

TEDCO Business advisor Bill Hartshorne (left) and owner Michael Tomlinson. Picture by Ian McClelland.
TEDCO Business advisor Bill Hartshorne (left) and owner Michael Tomlinson. Picture by Ian McClelland.

A former RAF worker is cooking up a storm with a new twist on an old classic.

Michael Tomlinson has launched The Little Fishy, a mobile street vendor serving up fish and chips.

The Little Fishy will serve up a selection of locally-caught fish with chips from a bespoke built trailer thanks to a £16,500 start-up business loan from Virgin StartUp and help from TEDCO Business Support.

Michael and his trailer will be a regular sight at Tynemouth Station market after securing a weekend slot.

The 31-year-old said: “Launching The Little Fishy has really been in the works since I left the RAF about eight years ago.

“I knew I wanted to start a business in something food-based and street food markets were starting to become more popular.

“It was a visit to Tynemouth Market a few months ago which really got me thinking more seriously about the viability of this type of business.”

“As the market has expanded in the past few years, so has the number of street food vendors and visitors looking for something a bit different to eat on a Saturday and Sunday rather than a sit-down meal.

“I approached the managers of the market and they were very supportive of the idea of a fish and chip style vendor so long as the trailer could be independently rolled in and out of the market every weekend.”

Michael then approached TEDCO, with business advisor Bill Hartshorne helping to put together a solid business plan, with TEDCO’s start and grow programming helping to get The Little Fishy up and running.

Michael said: “With Bill’s support, we applied for and were successful in receiving a Virgin StartUp loan of £16,500 which has helped fund all of our start-up costs.

“Without it, we would have found launching The Little Fishy extremely difficult as we had to commission a specialist company to build the trailer from scratch to ensure we had all the equipment, storage and space we needed.

“Additionally, we were able to work with Ashley Wilton, a brand designer in Newcastle who specialises in hand-rendered typography for the likes of Fortnum and Mason, to create the gourmet artisan feel that really sets The Little Fishy apart from your everyday fish and chip vendor on the coast.”

He added: “We launched in mid-December and are looking forward to customers trying our selection of fresh cooked cod, sourced direct from Taylors on the North Shields Fish Quay.

“We want customers to enjoy the tradition of fish and chips by the seaside in a take-away format and we hope that our no nonsense approach to creating good, tasty food will be a runaway success.”

Bill Hartshorne, business advisor at TEDCO Business Support, said: “The Little Fishy is a fantastic local business created by someone with a clear strategy and insight into how to make a food business successful.

“Michael’s plan to start at market-level and build up a following of the Little Fishy brand before potentially making the move into premises has seen a number of street based food vendors make the jump from trailer to restaurant-owner lately.

“We hope to work with Michael in a long-term capacity, beyond the start-up phase, to support his plans for growing the Little Fishy brand even further and wish him every success in his new venture.”