Iconic fish and chip shop owner hangs up apron

Former Captain Ben’s owner Thanh Bang Lu has retired and is handing over the business to his...
Former Captain Ben’s owner Thanh Bang Lu has retired and is handing over the business to his nephew Mark Trinh. Photo: Supplied
A fish and chip shop owner heralded as an icon among Canterbury University students is retiring after 28 years.

Thanh Bang Lu, who has owned well known Captain Ben’s fish and chip shop around the corner from the university campus since 1992, said he is retiring to get some well-needed rest.

"I need some rest because my neck and back is all sore,” he said.

Lu said he loved every single day he worked at the shop and wanted to thank his many loyal customers.

"We see a lot of people who used to come here when they were students who come back and visit the shop and say hello.

"Some people bring back children and they tell the children this is where they got their food when they were at university.

"I am always very happy to see them and the next generation.”

Mark Trinh enjoys a chip with university student and frequent customer Koby Li. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Mark Trinh enjoys a chip with university student and frequent customer Koby Li. Photo: Geoff Sloan
University student and frequent customer Koby Li said he started going to the shop after a number of friends recommended it.

“I come here for lunch like three or four times a week,” he said.

University of Canterbury Student Association student executive president Tori McNoe described Lu as an "icon".

"He has been a pretty big icon for students over the years. It goes from supporting student rugby teams to creating a burger for someone in their name who was running for president of the student exec,” she said.

Lu will now hand over the ownership and management of the business to his nephew Mark Trinh, someone he described as a "tall, young and very experienced captain".

"I left it to him because he is a good chap. He is younger and stronger than me.”

Mark Trinh. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Mark Trinh. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Trinh, who used to run Joyful Restaurant, said he had found managing Captain Ben’s "really fun" so far and was amazed by the loyalty of some of the customers.

"Last Sunday, someone from Timaru came all the way up here for some fish and chips," he said.

Lu said egg fried rice, fish and chips, chicken burgers and potato fritters were his most popular dishes over his 28 years in charge of the store.

He said the secret to good fish and chips was “time to work.”

He will still be at the shop from time to time.

"If my nephew is stuck and he needs help I will go there."

 

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