Rico’s retirement finalises four-decade career serving fish and chips in Exmouth

PUBLISHED: 13:01 02 January 2018

Rico Nardone retires from his Littleham fish and chip shop. Ref exe 01 18TI 5956. Picture: Terry Ife

Rico Nardone retires from his Littleham fish and chip shop. Ref exe 01 18TI 5956. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

“I am sad and I am excited. Sad to say goodbye to my baby, but on the flip-side I have got a life outside waiting for me to explore,” says Rico Nardone, who recently retired after serving fish and chips from his Littleham takeaway for more then 40 years.

A popular Exmouth fish and chip shop owner’s recent retirement has finished four decades of frying for the town’s hungry hordes.

Rico Nardone, who opened Littleham fish and chip shop with his family on his 19th birthday, in May 1977, recently fried his way through his final fish and chip Friday.

And with word spreading that December 22 was Rico’s last shift, his loyal locals did not let the date pass by without a special send-off.

He said: “It was an amazing evening – I was blown away. I couldn’t tell you the amount of people who came to see me.”

As usual Rico was in the kitchen frying fish to golden perfection, but he also found time to come out and greet his well-wishers, including family members and ex-staff.

Even as the evening’s trading drew to a close, a sizeable group of people remained in the shop.

They counted down from 10 as the time approached 9pm, before erupting into ‘a nice big cheer’ for Rico, a moment which he described as ‘emotional’.

Rico’s retirement has marked the end of an era for his family, who have been in the fish and chip business for decades. His parents ran a chip shop in Ireland in the 1950s, before later taking one over in Exmouth in the 1960s.

And letting go of the business he ran initially with his parents, and then single-handedly for 20 years, has sparked mixed feelings.

He said: “I loved my chip shop. I wouldn’t have swapped it for any other chip shop in town. There might be one or two better ones financially, but I wouldn’t have changed it.

“I will miss the banter with customers. They are not just customers, but have become friends – I am going to miss that because I won’t see as much of them.”

But Rico hopes that retirement will mean he can finally enjoy some of the things a seven-day, split-shift working week would not allow.

He said: “The first thing I want to do is book myself a holiday.

“I am sad and I am excited. Sad to say goodbye to my baby, but on the flip-side I have got a life outside waiting for me to explore.”

As for the shop itself, Rico said it has been placed in ‘good hands’, with new local owners experienced in the hospitality business. And with plans to reopen the takeaway as soon as possible, those missing their fix of fried fish should not have too long to wait.

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