Marlboro 1974 Echo Feature 001

Original Dorset Echo Feature

The Marlboro Restaurant was founded on the 4th June 1974 by Ray and Clive Johnson and their friend Len Kirby in a corner building that used to house Dennett and Co ‘fruiterer and florist’.

Prior to the renovations in 1974 the building housed William Whittle Florist’s with an entrance onto St Edmund’s Street and upstairs Marcelle Ladies Hairdressers with an Entrance on St Thomas Street.

Today the business is being run by the second and third generations of Johnson’s and this year will celebrate its Ruby Jubilee with a series of fun events and ‘thank you’s’ for current and previous staff and customers.

During a Bank Holiday weekend last year the Marlboro received two very special visitors when Ray and Len Johnson popped back to see how the business was faring. It is hoped they will join us again this year to celebrate our 40th Anniversary.

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Ray & Len with Lauren during their recent visit

Manager Shaun Hatton said: “Ray Johnson and Len Johnson, who opened the Marlboro with Clive Johnson (Mike & Vinny’s father now deceased), popped back to see what has happened in the years they opened the restaurant.”

“They had been in last year to sample the mackerel bap and have come in this month to sample the new smoked kippers cooked in a light tempura batter. They said they tasted even better than the mackerel.”

When the Marlboro first opened, Ray, Len and Clive would work all hours of the day and night to make it a success. They often slept above the shop on a couple of mattresses three or four nights a week before returning home to Bournemouth to see their families.

Now the business is run by Lauren Johnson – better known as Loz – and her brother Craig Johnson,  their parents Vinny and Lou and aunt and uncle Mike and Kay. They are always introducing new ideas to the menu – Crab Cakes were a popular addition last year.

Shaun Hugh

Manager Shaun Hatton with TV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall during the Channel 4 Series “Hughs Fish Fight”

Manager Shaun Hatton has worked at the Marlboro, man and boy, for 35 years and has no intention of moving any time soon.

He says the highlight of his working life was devising the sustainable Mackerel Baps which went down a storm with TV chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and winning last year’s Best Fish and Chip Shop award in the Best of Dorset competition.

“We have very loyal patrons and we enjoy what we do,” he said. “The Marlboro has been open for 40 years and we are looking forward to celebrating in some style.”

Lily Golf

Another loyal and long serving member of staff is Lily Roberts, who will celebrates over 40 Years of working here as a waitress.

She continues to work as a waitress in the restaurant despite being passed retirement age, as well as continuing a very active lifestyle of fitness classes and her number 1 hobby Golf. A keen member of Came Down ladies, pictured here taking part in our 2013 Charity Golf Day.

The Marlboro Restarant has won many accolades during its history. Below are some of the more recent ones. We have also been listed in the Guardian Newspapers Top 10 Dorset Fish & Seafood Restaurants.

IDorset Winner 002 Health Hygiene Cert Dec 12


Reopen after Fire Dorset Echo 001Reopen After Fire Pg 2 Dorset Echo 001

Many regulars will remember that the Marlboro nearly didn’t even make its 35th Anniversary back in 2008 when a small fire caused more damage than was first thought, resulting in a total refurbishment on all floors inside & out, causing the business to be closed for 5 months, missing out on the traditionally busy autumn months and Christmas period.

Following the refurbishment, Owner Mike Johnson spoke glowingly of manager Shaun Hatton,“Shaun has been the main co-ordinator during the closure, bringing together all the necessary trades and ensuring that everything gets done”

Brother Vinny agreed saying that “Shaun’s enthusiastic determination has been instrumental in getting us open in time”

Preston & Thomas frying equipment was once again installed during the Refurbishment, ensuring the association with the Cardiff-based equipment manufacturer continued since we first opened in 1974 and was installed by the same original installer Joe Dacruz.

The Marlboro Restaurant re-opened its doors to customers on Thursday 7th February 2008


Shaun HughHere at the Marlboro Resturant we are proud to have been the first fish and chip shop nationally to get involved with Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight – The Mackerel Bap Mission from 2010. The idea was to get lovely, sustainable, healthy, British Mackerel on the menu of at least one fish and chip shop in every town across the UK and help reduce fish discard worldwide!

Mackerel is a fast growing species and can reproduce quickly and therefore is was thought to be less vulnerable to stock depletion by over fishing. Mackerel is very healthy and is full with omega 3 oils. So, mackerel is not only tasty but good for you too!Hughs Fish Fight Logo

Manager Shaun Hatton went to London to lobby MPs with Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall and  fellow chef Jamie Oliver in the series which was aired on Channel 4.

There have been reports since that Mackerel had in fact been overfished and had lost its Marine Stewardship Council Certification. We continue to strive to provided sustainably sourced Mackerel to our customers and maintain the option for our customers on the menu.

For the very latest on Hugh’s Fish Fight visit www.fishfight.net

To watch the series all over again visit Channel 4 on Demand

For more information please see the Dorset Echo Articles below:

Weymouth Fish Shop Chef Takes Mackerel to Parliament

Fish and chip chef joins Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Fish and chip shop staff urged to rethink the sale of famous mackerel baps

Top chef tucks into fish and chips in Weymouth restaurant