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A husband and wife team who own and operate a number of O'Briens franchise outlets are planning to open nine new locations. Lee and Gill Fish, who currently operate nine outlets of the healthy food café franchise and employ 80 staff, are set to open nine new locations across the North East of England over the next 12 months.

The couple have opened their first of the nine cafes in the Hillstreet Shopping Centre in Middlesbrough. Lee and Gill have employed nine staff plus a manager, Martin Maloney, to operate the new 70 seater café, which sits on two levels.

Lee said: 'We could not have thought of a better place to be launching our expansion in the North East than here at Hillstreet, a bustling location that is so well known to us both and rekindles a lot of happy memories. The size of our café here allows us to provide the full O'Briens offer, as a large preparation kitchen means we can develop our catering service aimed at local businesses and private functions, which extends the offer far beyond the café.

'Looking ahead, plans are to more than double the number of cafes for O'Briens in the area, building on the success of the eights already establish by different franchise owners in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham. We have a new franchise owner opening this July at Eldon Square, Newcastle, and we are already in advanced negotiations with further major new sites in Washington, Gateshead, Stockton, Darlington and Hartlepool this year.'

Peter Drabble, Hillstreet Centre Manager, commented: 'O'Briens is a well respected brand, which will add more quality and choice to Hillstreet. I am delighted on behalf of everyone at Hillstreet to welcome O'Briens into our busy shopping centre and wish them every success.'

O'Briens focuses on offering healthy, seasonal choices, with signature hot and cold sandwiches at the heart of its menu - Toasties, Tripledeckers, Wrappos and shamrock-shaped foaccia Shambos. There are also salads, organic snacks, a juice bar, speciality soups, freshly baked muffins, cookies and scones, as well as Fairtrade teas and coffee with beans sourced direct from the grower.


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