Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|December 6, 2021|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor's Desk

"Sweet sorrow with salt and vinegar – an entrepreneurs’ tale"

They could have been entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world; full of hard work hope and dreams. Ordinary people taking an extraordinary risk with their hard-won savings.


It started when a group of middle-aged men saw a rundown city centre food takeaway in one of the main streets that was frayed at the edges.

Once the shop had been one of the busiest fishand chip shops in the city. Generations of late-night revellers propped up the shiny steel bar telling of feats of drinking, romance, jealousy, and trouble on the streets.

In the day, mothers would take their children for fish and chips at the end of a shopping trip. In all, the shop served hundreds of thousands of people over 30 years and was almost like a landmark.

So many late-night revellers – including me – were happy when the group of middle-aged men bought the shop and attempted to bring it back to life.

The group – clearly good friends as well as handy with a hammer and saw  – spent the summer months restoring and refurbishing lovingly the shop to its former glory .

Where once were dingy windows and  neglect, came blue, white and blinding light behind polished windows above  a spick-and-span floor you could eat your chips off.

Late every Saturday night the middle-aged mates would switch on the lights, around midnight, as most people weaved their way home through the city ,to get busy with hammers and screwdrivers.

You could see from the smiles on their faces that they had spent a lot of time pulling ropes in the same direction. On-and-on went the work for months as they sank their capital and hard work  into what they believed was the revival of a gold mine. Incredible dedication that is the making of entrepreneurs.

Bless them, to sum it all up, they named the spanking new fish bar: Friends. It was all going so well; the group hired a keen young man, decked out in  white chef’s gear with a little white hat, to serve out the shoals of fish and mountains of chips.

Alas, it did not happen. The young man in the white hat barely sold a fish and spent most of his days staring aimlessly out of the window with his right cheek in the palm his hand and boredom written all over this face. I always thought this  was a bad advert for the shop and if the man in the white hat was bored, he should have kept this away from the front window.  The fish may have glistened, but they were not gold.

The middle-aged friends made a fundamental entrepreneur error. Becoming emotional about an investment and failing to spot how the market had changed.

The market had changed, people no longer wanted cheap fish and chips – from Mexico to Turkey other shops were delivering cheaper food.

As hard as the group of middle-aged friends worked – they had clearly been too busy to spot that their investment was in white fish was a  white elephant.

The only good move these entrepreneurs made was to close down the shop after a couple of weeks to cut their losses. The economists call this the reallocation of capital.

I am sure the group of middle-aged friends called it sweet sorrow; with plenty of salt and vinegar left over to rub into the wounds.