The quintessentially British fish and chips is endangered. Why?

“Some of the competitors are reducing their hours. Some are reducing the quality, staffing levels,” Copley says. “Everybody’s trying to make some sort of cuts, so not to pass it on to a customer.”

In recent months, chippies and their supporters have begun a campaign to “Save the chippies,” urging customers to keep supporting their local fish and chips joint even if the fried meal costs a bit more than it used to. Sarson’s, the vinegar maker, launched a “Fryday” promotion to reimburse 50 customers each Friday for a fish and chips purchase that they promote on social media.

As he doled out tables to a line of waiting diners during the lunchtime rush, Copley said he was hard-pressed to define what British culinary culture would look like if the chippies disappeared.

“It’s like Sunday lunches, fish and chips, and going down to the pub,” Copley said. “It’s what we do.”

CORRECTION (Jan. 3, 2024, 8:00 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of Maggie’s co-owner. He is Lionel Copley, not Cobley.