From Across the Pond has been serving English fare in North Richland Hills for more than a decade. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it hit them hard.
“We literally did 99% of our business through dine-in,” owner Lee Herdman says. "Take-out was maybe 1% of our business."
“We used DoorDash some,” says Herdman, who was born and raised in North London (Abbey Road, specifically). “And then we tried curbside after the pandemic hit, but I could feel it was fleeting.”
So, his fans and regulars started bugging on his Facebook page about delivery. They were clamoring for fish and chips and shepherd's pie.
“People would post, ‘If only you delivered to Frisco.’ And so I said, 'Sure, just find me 10 other people to order in that area, and I will.'”
Well, they did, and it worked. Using his own customers as marketing, the concept has carried business through this very difficult time. Others have adopted similar models and are also finding success.
Now Herdman has transitioned his restaurant to a road business. Customers send their order by a certain time through the Facebook page. He and his crew fulfill all the orders just before taking off to meet customers at predetermined locations.
Right now the regular weekly rotation includes Aledo, Plano, Mansfield, Burleson, Saginaw, Wylie, Weatherford, Granbury and their two most popular spots: Roanoke and Denton.
Don't see your city? Well, ask on their Facebook and get some friends to help drive up the order quantity.
They created an “On The Road” menu that works better for delivery and includes family-style meals. (It's posted separately on the restaurant's Facebook page.)
Herdman says he was hesitant to deliver fish and chips, fearful they would lose their crispy texture, explaining that it's best served right out of the fryer.
He was prepared for complaints, especially from places that are upward of an hour away. But, his customers figured it out. He was even a bit baffled by it, so he recently asked them directly on Facebook what methods, exactly, they are employing when reheating the food.
Forty-four comments later he had his answer. Some customers use an air fryer, heated at 400 degrees, then cooked at 370 for four minutes on each side. Others use their convection oven set anywhere from 350 to 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
The cod is flaky and slightly sweet. In hindsight, I could have popped them in the oven for a few minutes to revive that crispiness bit more. The Scotch eggs were a novelty; a hard-boiled egg encased in pork sausage and deep-fried, lovely with a dollop of yellow mustard on each bite. (These didn’t need to be reheated.)
For now, deliveries are the path forward for From Across the Pond. Herdman says he struggles morally with having the dining room open.
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“We’re assessing the risks and ethics of the dining room being opened and are likely to cease that aspect of business shortly,” Herdman says.
The delivery system is doing so well that long term he’s considering moving to a commercial kitchen, sticking with the delivery business for good. That's all in the air for now, though, at least until things settle down from the pandemic.
In the meantime, if you're craving fish and chips, this is a fantastic option. The pick-up is a smooth and seamless transaction. And if you can make it home without eating most of the food, put it in the oven for perfect fish and chips.
From Across the Pond, 8000 Bedford Euless Road, North Richland Hills.