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15 Minutes with Adam Randall

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Adam Randall built his North Charleston chippy from the ground up. Photograph by Margret Wood

June 7, 2017

15 Minutes with Adam Randall
The CODfather owner wasn’t sure if a traditional British chippy would catch on in Charleston. One year, 100,000 pounds of potatoes, and 8,000 pounds of cod later, he’s just getting starting

Written by Hailey Middlebrook

CM: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small British town called Macclesfield, about a half hour south of Manchester. My parents divorced when I was young, and my dad moved to America. When I was 19, I flew out to live with him and work in his restaurant in Philadelphia.

CM: Was your dad’s place a fish and chips shop?
Yes, it was called “The British Chippy,” in Limerick, Pennsylvania. When I decided to open my shop in Charleston, I wanted to run a similar business. His old front-door sign is now hanging on the CODfather’s ceiling.

CM: What brought you from Philadelphia to Charleston?
My dad and I moved down here around 2004, when I was 21. He opened a restaurant on Queen Street, but then a few months later, he passed away unexpectedly. After that, I returned briefly to England to work as a carpenter. When I had about $3,000 in my pocket, I booked a flight to Charleston.

CM: Did you plan to open a restaurant?
Yes, but it didn’t happen right away. I worked for a tour boat company and then got into home construction. In 2013, I bought this spot in North Charleston, and I set aside money each month to transform it into a restaurant.

CM: Tell us about building the CODfather.
I came here on my days off, raising it bit by bit. I put metal plating on the interiors, then crafted the benches in the dining room and designed the kitchen. I was introduced to an artist through a friend of mine, and he did the spray-paint artwork inside. My brother Matt, who lives here now, was trained as a chef in England and he helped me write the recipes. About 18 months later, we had a little chippy.

CM: What makes your restaurant a classic “chippy”?
Like a traditional British chippy, we sell fish and chips, meat pies, fish sandwiches, and mushy peas and gravy. Everything has to be fresh: all day, we batter the fillets, manually press the potatoes through a slicer, and fry the fish and chips.

CM: What’s the deal with mushy peas?
In Northern England, mushy peas are a must—you can eat them as a side or a topping. They’re traditionally made with marrow fat peas, but those were too expensive to import, so we make ours with green split peas. It’s just peas, salt, pepper, and water. They have a mashed potato-like texture—you either love or hate them.

CM: So do Southerners have a taste for British food?
When we opened in January 2016, I never thought it would be this popular. I was worried that downtowners wouldn’t want to drive all the way up to North Charleston, but I’ve had customers tell me they’ve traveled here from Florida, North Carolina, and even Indiana to eat our fish and chips. It’s crazy.

CM: Do you have a family here?
Yes, I live in Summerville with my wife, Nikki, and our two girls, Priscilla (who’s one) and Gracie (who’s five). When I’m with them, I do as little restaurant stuff as possible. Stepping away from the fryers is key to maintaining your sanity.

CM: What’s next for the CODfather?
This summer, I’d like to participate in some pop-up events in Charleston, perhaps at craft breweries. I love a cold lager with fish and chips.

To watch a clip from our interview with Randall, click here.

To read more from the June issue, click here.