Chef-restaurateur Mitch Tonks has revealed he has four new Rockfish restaurants in the pipeline, with plans to hit around 15 over the next four years.
Tonks owns five Rockfish restaurants with business partner Mat Prowse in Exmouth, Torquay, Brixham, Dartmouth and Plymouth, with a sixth in Exeter due to open in November.
“We’ve got an active pipeline of four units which we’re in the advanced stages of closing, and they’ll be opening over the next couple of years,” said Tonks. “We’ve just finished a fantastic first quarter of this year, boosted by the weather, and we’re very optimistic about the future.”
The 100-cover Exeter Quays site is both the first new-build restaurant and their first location away from the coast, “but we can still get fish on the day, which is a big USP for Rockfish”, said Tonks. He added that some of the new units being planned will also be new builds or developments.
However, the latest site has also drawn some criticism, with Tonks receiving threatening emails from one individual.
“There was one guy hellbent on criticising the whole plan. I said why don’t we get together and he described in detail what he’d like to do to me if he ever met me, so we reported it to the police,” said Tonks. “We’ve not heard any more.”
Otherwise, he said the project has received “huge local support”.
“We’ve always run good restaurants and they’ve always become part of the local community. If our restaurant proves to be successful, and I hope it will, and brings lots of people to the area, then surely everybody can benefit.”
In addition to his Rockfish restaurants, Tonks also owns his flagship Seahorse eatery in Dartmouth.