WILMINGTON — Fresh local seafood should be easy to find in the Port City, but while roadside stands are ubiquitous – at least in the summer – there aren’t that many brick and mortar markets in town.
G. Phillip David, local attorney and enthusiastic fisherman, decided he wanted to change that. David said he saw a real need in the Wilmington community, and set about opening the Intracoastal Seafood Market to fill the niche.
“We’re a good sized city on the coast, but there really aren’t a lot of places to go and get local seafood,” David said. “These days, a lot of people are eating healthier, and that means eating more seafood. But a lot of people still go to the grocery store and get fish that’s been shipped from out of state – or from farms in Vietnam. People needed someplace centrally located where they could go get really fresh fish.”
David, who also owns the Intracoastal Angler fishing shop near Bradley Creek, said part of his inspiration came from his years of fishing.
“I’ve got three sons and we’ve all grown up fishing – not commercial fishing, of course, but recreational fishing. We would see people all the time who had caught more than they could eat. Part of what we’ll be doing is buying from local fisherman who aren’t commercial fisherman, just recreational fishermen like me and my boys.”
Intracoastal Seafood will buy local, in-season seafood from local fishermen, provided they are not going over their limits, David said. The market will also be geared toward helping local commercial fisherman. David hired longtime commercial fisherman Selby Lewis to be the full-time manager of the market, both because of his deep relationships with local fisherman and his standards for freshness.
Lewis had literally gone fishing when Port City called, but David volunteered to say a little about him.
“(Lewis) has been doing this for a long time, and the fishermen around here know him well. They look up to him – I wouldn’t quite say he’s a father figure – but they respect him,” David said. “Lewis will tell you, a lot of these larger commercial boats from Virginia down to Georgia, they’ll go out and they’ll stay out for days, a week. So the fish they catch on the first day, it’s a week old when it gets to shore. By the time it gets on a shelf and you pick it up, it could be almost two weeks old – and that’s just not good enough for Lewis.”
Lewis’s policy – which will also be Intracoastal’s – is to only source fish from day-boats or, at most, fishing vessels that have spent just a single night on the water. David said he hopes this will help support smaller local fishing businesses that often have the freshest fish but don’t necessarily have the connections to sell their catch.
When Lewis returned to shore, he said the store’s selection would include local sea bass, grouper, triggerfish, snapper, trout, wahoo and tuna.
The Intracoastal Seafood Market will also sell some popular but less local seafood, namely lobster, swordfish and king crab. Said Lewis, “I’ve been a commercial fisherman all my life. So, there’s a lot of thought behind what we’ll have and when. You’ll have a lot of knowledge behind the fish you’re buying.”
The Intracoastal Seafood Market is located at 5039 Oleander Dr. and is scheduled to open Monday, April 10.