A MUSSELBURGH eatery which specialises in seafood has won a hat-trick of accolades.

East Coast, on the town’s North High Street, was named Best High End Fish & Chip Takeaway in the Food & Drink Awards 2019, hosted by LUX Life magazine.

The venue also scooped the Contemporary Restaurant of the Year 2020 title in the Edinburgh Prestige Awards and achieved a 2020 Good Food Award for Fish & Chips.

Owners Carlo Crolla and wife Katia are delighted with their success after deciding to take the long-established family business into a new era a year ago.

The couple transformed their fish and chip shop, formerly The Coral Reef, and premises next door into a modern fish and chip shop, and a new seafood and grill restaurant.

Mr Crolla, who took over the family business in 2002, said: “Musselburgh holds a very special place in my family’s heart.”

His family have owned the takeaway since 1974, after his dad Giovanni and mum Rosina took it over from Gavana’s, renaming it Giovanni’s Fish & Chicken Bar.

As their children became more involved, the name changed to Crolla Fish Restaurant and, after an extensive refit in 1999, to The Coral Reef.

“Styles may change, but great flavours, family heritage and warm, friendly service remain as important to us today as they did 44 years ago,” said Mr Crolla.

With some 10,500 fish and chip shops/restaurants in the UK, competition for the Good Food Award for Fish & Chips was tough.

Some 10,277 votes were cast for the finalists by readers, customers and fans alike.

Based upon customer feedback, nominations and votes, East Coast demonstrated “exceptional” levels of food quality, service and value when compared to industry benchmarks in the category.

The LUX Life magazine Food and Drink Awards commend businesses which continue demonstrating “a high level of culinary excellence” and also pay homage to those who successfully cater “to the varying lifestyles, tastes and choices of the modern-day consumer by bringing new and innovative products to the table”.

Each year, both readers and contributors to the Corporate LiveWire and LTG publications are invited to put forward companies, products, services and individuals who they feel are deserving of recognition in the awards.

A research team then follows up by scanning the relevant information provided such as online reviews.

Regional awards have been introduced to recognise smaller, independent businesses that are “extremely successful and hard-working” on a local level.

The couple said that fish and chips had always been part of their lives, with Mrs Crolla’s family running a business in Glasgow city centre.

Mr Crolla said: “We were born into this industry as my parents and Katia’s grandparents, followed by her parents, had successful fish and chip shops.

“We both grew up working in the fish and chip shop trade.

“My earliest memory was standing on a stool punching in the numbers on a huge old-fashioned cash register.

Katia’s is sitting on a pile of potato sacks watching her dad peel the potatoes.

“Over the years, we put our all into the business, each working up to 90 hours per week, up to seven days a week, morning, afternoon and late into the night. It is a labour-intensive industry.

“We lived in the flat above the shop which allowed my parents to work those long, hard hours whilst having a young family.

“I remember having to jump up and down on the floor after an argument with my brother or sister to get my parents’ attention, who were working below.

“Katia joined forces with me in 2006, the year we got married, and we continued to run The Coral Reef together.”