Co-owner of John's Lunch, Fotus Fatouros said he's happy to be recognized by Canadian Living Magazine for making the best fish and chips in the country, but admits he has his customers to thank for that.
"I feel good about it, but it doesn't have anything to do with me," Fatouros said behind the counter at John's Lunch. "I have customers all over the world and they spread the word around, not me.
"A couple of days ago, people came from Montreal and asked the people around, ‘who has the best fish and chips?' and they sent them to John's Lunch," he said with a smile. "That makes me happy and we try to do the best for our customers."
A landmark of Woodside, John's Lunch has been operating since 1969, offering a variety of seafood and comfort dishes.
Fatouros said the reason behind the restaurant's longevity is that customers truly do come first. They don't change anything on their menu or layout unless the customers explicitly ask for it.
"People ask me if John's Lunch will stay around much longer and I say ‘at least another 40 years,' because my boys are going to take over," Fatouros said, who started with the restaurant in 1988 as a cook and bought the business from the previous owner in 1994 with a partner.
Now two of his sons and wife work at the restaurant, making it truly a family-run establishment.
The name John's Lunch comes from the original owner, but Fatouros said some customers, especially children, call him John. He doesn't seem to mind.
Although John's Lunch was picked for the best fish and chips in Canada, Fatouros says customers' keep coming back for the clams.
"Everything on the menu here sells well, we don't just have fish and chips, we have pizza, burgers, hot sandwiches and everything sells," he said. "And if you come up to me and say, ‘Hey, the fish don't taste so good today,' I won't get upset, I'll appreciate you telling me that."
"We use good quality, fresh ingredients," he said. "We have fresh fish and clams delivered here almost every day, every week."
Fatouros said that the most important aspect of his success is making people feel ‘at home' when they sit down for a meal.
"They see the food when we're making it, they chat with us while we serve it," he said. "This is home for us and home for them."
Other restaurants across Canada featured in Canadian Living for their Fish and Chips
Lord Elgin Fish & Chips
Port Elgin, Ontario
Locations across British Columbia
Red Fish Blue Fish
Vicoria, British Columbia