If you asked a hundred people outside Scotland about Lesmahagow, chances are, ninety-nine of them are going to say, “Lesma…what?”.
You want to know how to say it now, don’t you? Fine, we’ll spell it out phonetically…
“Lez-mah-hay-goh”. It’s actually pretty simple once you know, right? You won’t forget that now.
One of our most loyal, most popular customers is situated in the small town of Lesmahagow. A takeaway so popular, their Facebook page actually has more followers (6,000+) than the town’s population has people (around 4,300). Enter, Pepe’s Fish & Pizza Bar…
A passion for food is deeply rooted in the Franceschi family, with fish & chips in particular being something the Scottish-Italian clan have specialised in for over 50 years. That passion comes across quite evidently in the fact that they serve only fresh haddock in their award-winning fish supper, and ensure the best potatoes are sourced for the fluffiest chips in the Northern Hemisphere. Something else they’ve managed to do at Pepe’s; something we’ve even advised not to do in a recent blog article is keep a fairly extensive menu not only manageable, but consistently satisfying for patrons to enjoy - there’s always an exception to the rule, right? Kudos to them for that - it’s not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination.
Pepe’s smashes out hundreds of takeaway orders a week on their inTouch EPOS system, and they also cater to those who want that exclusive taste of Pepe’s at home, affectionately named…well…Pepe’s @ Home! Their famous pizzas, as well as their equally famous cookies are available in special ‘Dough It Like Pepe’s’ kits that make their great-tasting food a fun activity for the whole family, and that’s the sort of fantastic energy we get from this takeaway - that it’s all about family. Something we, here at Integer, are big on, too.
"Dad came over from Italy in the 60s and opened a shop in ‘68 in East Kilbride. Mum and Dad still have shops, and my uncles and aunts all have chippies all around Scotland. Family is a big part of the brand. All the team at Pepe’s have kinda become part of an extended family - we all look out for each other and take care of each other. It’s important we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. Of course, there’s times where we want to kill each other, hahaha! But that’s family for you, right?".
Speaking on extending the already-extended family, Enrico said: “We take on a lot of young kids here, and oftentimes it’s their first job and we want to give them work experience. They’re under enough stress at school so we don’t want them stressed out even more. Obviously we want them to work hard, but it’s important they feel appreciated as well.”
“Integer's inTouch system is totally foolproof - it doesn't make mistakes. If there’s a mistake, it’s you that's made it. Everything in the business moves faster - we’re more productive. Before we came to Integer we had so much more work to do. I’ve used a few systems before, and people have tried to sell me different systems, but inTouch is by far the best system I've used. I recommend it to everyone I know who's in the takeaway business.
It’s really easy to train staff on. We had a girl who started last week just taking phone orders, but she's already mastered the system - knows the meal deals, everything. There’s also a training mode, which is helpful, but we’ve got to the point where we rarely use it now because it’s so easy to train new staff in real time.”
If there’s one thing takeaways rely on for new customers, it’s reviews from previous ones, and Pepe’s boasts a very respectable 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google, alongside their 4.6 out of 5 on Facebook. Known for their large portions, high-quality food, and reasonable prices, the takeaway has taken Lesmahagow (you read it out loud correctly this time, didn’t you?) to new heights and set a standard that will be difficult to match for any competitors hoping for a slice of the local (pizza) pie.
Pepe’s doesn’t behave like a single-location takeaway in a town of less than 5,000 people - Pepe’s behaves like a brand; and that’s something other businesses can really learn from. Take a look at their website here - that alone will show you how forward-thinking the mind of owner Enrico Franceschi really is.
“I have a degree in Hospitality Management and also used to work for some big companies like Orange, T-Mobile, and Vodafone - you learn a lot about branding if you’re tuned into the communications side of things. I look at all the big companies, like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, etc, and they all promote themselves and themselves alone, so I learnt that I don't want to be talking about anyone else but my own brand. I realised branding really matters, and even though I’m a bit older than the rest of my team, I know social media is huge, and can be an amazing platform to propel your business if used correctly.”
One of the key components of a successful brand is ensuring its roots aren’t forgotten, and the local community is kept well and truly in mind. Enrico has instilled in Pepe's name that charity really does begin at home, with the team taking part in many local activities and community projects.
“We don't like to support the massive charities if we can avoid it - not in a bad way, but we support quite a few smaller charities, and we also try to work with ones in the local community. No disrespect to anyone who does (work with bigger charities), but the smaller ones tend to need more help, so we like to use our presence on social media as a bit of a boost for those guys. We also charge a little something for bags, and that goes into the pot for the local charities as well.”
They even managed to garner over 30,000 views (organically!) of their 2020 Christmas song video on Facebook (which you can watch here) in aid of underprivileged children, making the national press with their comical approach to the 2021 festive period - read the article here.
It’s probably fair to say that Pepe’s is a bit of a Lesmahagow Legend.