Whether it’s a three-day holiday or just a regular summer weekend at the beach, Seaview Crab Company gears up for action long before Friday afternoon arrives.
On Thursday morning, deliveries continue to roll into the loading dock at 1515 Marstellar Street in Wilmington.
The Marstellar Market is the receiving point for Seaview’s seafood and product is distributed from there to the other Seaview locations (6458 Carolina Beach Road, 5740 Market Street, Spout Springs, and Tramway).
Nathan King, Joe and Sam Romano – owners of Seaview – zip through morning routines to get ahead of the orders (and anticipated orders) for fresh fish, crabs, clams and shrimp.
Nathan is filing the paperwork for the fresh cultured oysters just delivered from Beaufort, North Carolina.
Sam is heading out to check the crab pots in and around the local waterways, while Joe darts through the building, talking all the while on his phone.
“Crabs? Yes, we’ve got . . .Okay, wait. I’ll go check.”
Joe is on his phone constantly getting up-tothe-minute reports on seafood inventory, what’s starting to sell out and what’s coming in at the docks.
While he is talking, Joe keeps moving from one room to another, finally stopping in the packing room. There is a brief pause as he ends a conversation and surveys the scene in front of him. Within a few seconds he is packing clams, whistling along as the strains of “Sweet Home Alabama” emanate from a nearby radio.
“It’s all about communication and planning ahead,” he says. “We do what we know, we look at last year’s reports for this time period and go from there. Over time we have expanded our sources and have more options, which helps in planning strategy.”
Before he can say more, the phone buzzes and he’s off again – this time running through the market to check on a delivery.
Linda Baldwin, a Seaview customer, is on the other side of the counter watching all the activity. A Wilmington native, she’s waiting for fishmonger Timmy Simpson to cut her croakers.
“I like this place,” she says about Seaview. “I like coming here and I like the way they cut my fish. I don’t have to mess with them.”
Timmy turns around from his knife work and grins, “She likes me,” he says, before erupting into a big laugh.
She laughs too and says that though she usually gets just croakers, she thinks she might get a few shrimp today as well. Linda’s fish are now cut, cleaned and bagged, and she is happily headed toward home.
It’s time for the next market chore.
Timmy grabs a tub of flounders and begins cutting them into fillets as if it were an Olympic sport. “I first learned about fish cutting, just head on down the back, from William Earl at Zorro’s Fish Market when I was a teenager,” he says.
After finishing the flounder, he grabs a Mahi-Mahi and tosses it on the cutting board while dancing and singing, “Hey little Mahi, whatcha doin’ in my store?”
When he’s not selling or filleting fish, Timmy performs with a local reggae band called DHIM.
“Yes,” he says, talking again about the fish, “I looked at how different people cut fish and I took what I thought was good. I took what I liked,” he adds.
Scaling, gutting and filleting most fish are a breeze for him, but Timmy says a gar that a customer brought in for cleaning one time posed a challenge.
“That was one tough fish. Cutting it was like carving into this metal sink,” he says, shaking his head. “And the meat inside is soft and gooey.”
The activity throughout the Marstellar market continues to intensify throughout the day with customers, deliveries, and orders for the weekend. It’s almost Friday . . . Catch you next time.