Matt Betteride owner of Sobo Fish in Southbourne has weathered the covid storm to keep his business buoyant during the pandemic.

Despite opening literally a week before the lockdown the restaurant is the Number One seafood restaurant for Bournemouth and Poole on Trip Adviser and is the winner of the Bournemouth Echo Trader of the Week title.

Matt has always been local and trained at Bournemouth and Poole College. He was Head Chef at Shell Bay doing seafood dishes along with his now head chef at Sobo Phil Etheridge.

He ran the Clock Cafe at Boscombe Gardens where he would do special fish nights and then had the Pie and Mash Shop at Tuckton.

"There was very little profit despite my working 7 days a week and it being very busy. So I extended the business to Bournemouth Pies, the wholesale part, supplying pubs, cafes and restaurants. That was a lot easier and more profitable - and then came COVID-19. Because the business was wholesale and nowhere was open to supply I shut down in April last year.

"My daughter and I took over Sobo Fish in January 2020. It took three months to refurbish it and we opened on March 12. We were open for a week before the first lockdown, so started deliveries in April. We have since only been able to open the restaurant for four months this year (July, August, September and October).We were really busy, turning away hundreds of bookings every week.

"In June we decided to build an outside dining area which was open July until October when we had to close for the second lockdown.By December we had our outdoor heated dining pods open, which are heated and all under cover. They seat six so were booked out to families from one household every night. "

"We are getting some really nice reviews and when we are turning away bookings every night.So we are now developing our outside dining seating and making more of the space we have spare. At the moment we can cater for about 40 outside as each of the four pods seats six and with our under cover benches we can accommodate up to 48 outside. We are adding some tables for two to maximise capacity. We also seat 45 indoors and most nights we are turning tables twice. Our kitchen is only 10 feet square so we're doing really well.

"We are short on storage so we buy produce daily and when it's gone it's gone. I don't specify what comes in- I do my menues based on what comes in and change it every day. We have a blackboard listing all the fish that comes in and another for the sides. Everything is a set price of £15. Sometimes there might be a £3 supplement for something like Seabass . We use local and sustainable seafood which is affordable rather than occasional, meaning people will come in two or three times a week which is great for us. We have our regulars already, even though the restaurant was only open for four months.

"We are confident we will be busy once we are able to reopen and have taken bookings for Easter just in case!

"When I first opened it was just me but I took Phil on in the summer as I wanted to be up front. When it's busy there is me, Phil and his partner Shadee in the kitchen. Phil is the machine who comes in and sorts out all the fish; Shadee sorts out the starters and desserts and I'm by the hot lamps directing the food and managing the kitchen.

"The food is all oven baked with no thick sauces. We try to keep everything very natural.

The drinks are all locally brewed ales, beers and ciders and organic wines from France and Italy mainly. Our sommelier Mauro Guasti helps me selecting the best wines for fish- he is part of the family Guasti and Co who own a vineyard in Italy. All the wine is organic with natural ingredients and no chemicals. The wines are beautiful - stunning with seafood and very reasonably priced.

We undersell the wine price. I'm happy to take a hit on the profit to have nicer quality wine . all these wines are exclusive to us and to London restaurants. If I can make £10 on a bottle of wine just by taking it to the table I'm happy. I don't want to rip people off. For £60-£70 a couple can have a really nice meal with wine when they would pay at least double at other fish restaurants. I want to sustain my business as much as possible."

During lockdown people can order dishes on line to collect or be home delivered. Dishes include: fish curry, fish pie, mixed seafood grills, platters for special occasions, posh fish and chips, etc. For Mother's Day you can buy gift vouchers as well as treat boxes.

Matt adds: "Obviously as a business owner it's been a very difficult year and we've not met the turn over we predicted. It's been a year of experiences but we are looking forward to hopefully opening the restaurant again from Easter and having a proper year. We will keep our covid screens in place and extending the garden will be where a lot of our business comes with 90 per cent of outside dining under cover, heated pods and benches."