She sells seafood by the seashore

Shahar Flanders

How an old man and the sea inspired dreams of Freo youth

by Jane Grljusich
Herald Promotions

Is there anything more Freo than fish and chips? 

Only if you’re eating them on South Beach as the sky fills with colour and the sun disappears into the Indian Ocean for another day.  

And as locals would know, our sunsets are heavenly all year round, just like South Beach Fish and Chips

Fish and Chip shops are an institution in WA.

Picture this. It could be 1980. It could be today: A kid walks in with a skateboard – four friends wait outside: 

“Can I have a Chiko roll and five dollars chips please?”

Shop hand: “Would you like salt, salt and vinegar, or chicken salt on that?”

You can almost smell the vinegar, right? 

And so it goes in a fish and chip shop; simplicity; people concerned with everyday things with which their lives have always been absorbed. 

It’s so easy, yet complex in its own special way representing the “Wintonesque” circle of WA life. But we’re going with Hemingway today. 

The Old Man and the Sea

It was 2006, and Shahar Flanders was just 15 and filled a shift for her sister at South Beach Fish and Chips.

The owner, John, was an Englishman, known there since 1986 for his table service, mushy peas, curry sauce, and steak and kidney pies.

“My sister Marika did one shift and I covered her next one. I worked one or two shifts a week through the rest of high school and after until about 2014. Marika came back and a few months later, Petra – a best friend from school – got a job too. It was a great place and a great crew,” Shahar told the Herald. 

Some years later she dropped in on John and agreed to a shift a week. He began talking of age and retirement and asked if her musings of one day owning the shop herself were fair dinkum. She was only 26. 

“I was sort of studying and working in the events industry and didn’t really have a strong idea of where I was taking my life and thought ‘why not?’. I knew I enjoyed the work, I love to feed people and I love the community in South Freo. It’s where I grew up and I love seeing people I knew as a kid still around and coming in for a feed.  Half the kids in the neighbourhood have had a job here at one point or another and often come in to say hi. Tracy and Nicky who trained me are still here and I really love that they have stayed and are so supportive.”

The Circle of Life 

Now it’s been four years as owner. 

“I think when I first took over people were more surprised because I looked young, but these days I think I look old enough to be the owner! I love the autonomy and flexibility of working for myself,” Shahar told the Herald. 

Locally-owned and using local suppliers, South Beach Fish and Chips has been a local institution for 35 years.  

“I think good fish and chips should be an accessible, affordable feed, and we keep that forefront. Good customer service is also really important to me and we are dedicated to being a place where everyone is welcomed and all questions are answered. I’m proud we have moved to Aussie fish only, our mix of great fish celebrates what our local waters produce, and we’ve maintained some of the traditional menu options I inherited with the shop – mushy peas, the secret curry sauce recipe and Chiko rolls!”

Being Ernest – A Disclaimer

South Beach Fish and Chips is undoubtedly the best. I know – I work there. After a battle with bad luck (and some very big fish, oh – and the sharks), beaten like old Santiago in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, I met a young woman – a bit like Manolin from the same story. Shahar offered me an ear, respect and a job. It’s actually one of the most inspiring and decent ones I’ve ever had, restoring pride and honour, and with perseverance redefining success and victory. It brings back dreams of youth. Would you like salt, salt and vinegar or chicken salt with that?

386 South Terrace, South Freo
Phone 9335 6046
Mon to Thurs 5pm – 8.30pm  
Fri, Sat and Sun 12pm – 8.30pm

YOU RECEIVE 25% off your order when you mention this ad!

Promote your business. Contact Jane on 0417 814 128, or email

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