Popular Cheltenham fish and chip shop to reopen after catastrophic fire

The fish and chip shop was fully destroyed in the fire. Credit: SMART Fish Bar

A popular fish and chip shop is set to reopen six months after a devastating fire swept through the building.

SMART Fish Bar in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, was gutted following the blaze in October last year.

Owner Rui Brazao said the past six months have been some of the hardest of his life, but now he is "excited" for what the future has to hold.

He said they have been working seven days a week "to make sure everything is perfect for the reopening," and thanked the community for their support after the fire.

Firefighters were called to the fish and chip shop after the blaze broke out last year. Credit: SMART Fish Bar

Mr Brazao said he was finishing off a large order of around 100 fish and chips, when he noticed flames coming out of the frying range on 12 October 2023.

He recalled: "Within about two to three minutes, the whole place was full of smoke. The fire service arrived pretty quickly and managed to put it out, but it left such a mess.

"It was just such a shock," Mr Brazao added. "I was just looking at everything thinking right, how do we get around this?"

Mr Brazao said he was "in shock" when he saw the fire damage. Credit: SMART Fish Bar

Work to rebuild the shop started straight away, and now a new state-of-the-art kitchen has been installed which aims to prevent future fires and make the business more efficient.

"It was a lot of work," Mr Brazao said. "We're talking about repairs from top to bottom of the shop - a new range, a new ceiling, new walls."

Mr Brazao said he was a "coin-flip away from not being able to reopen the shop" due to the cost of the renovation, and there were points when he "almost threw the towel in and called it a day."

"We couldn't figure out how to make it work financially," he explained. "But thanks to the support of the local community and local companies, we've managed to make it work."

Mr Brazao said they had to refit the shop from top to bottom. Credit: SMART Fish Bar

"The support from everyone has just been amazing," Mr Brazao added.

He said customers have been in touch from all over the world saying that they're sorry for what happened and sending messages of encouragement.

"I've had people from America messaging me saying that they can't wait to come back for their fish and chips," he explained. "The support has just been absurd."

Mr Brazao said is happy to be back and is now planning to expand the business by taking on online orders.

"We think we're good enough to compete with anyone in town," he said. "And I think the people on the other side of town are missing out on some fantastic fish and chips."

SMART Fish Bar is due to reopen on Thursday 2 May.