Jessica Eberth picked a particularly difficult financial climate in which to open her Seafood Shop in January 2008, but her business has done well in the Normandie shopping center at Central and Woodlawn.
“It’s been better than I ever imagined it would be,” she says. “I just think there was a demand for fresh fish and first-class service, and I underestimated the demand.”
She’s hoping to create even more demand by moving to new, larger space at Cambridge Market at the southeast corner of 21st and Webb Road.
“It’s a more vibrant area, too,” Eberth says. “I expect we’ll bring in some more customers.”
The store will open in 1,875 square feet where Papa Murphy’s used to be.
The store currently is in 1,100 square feet, and Eberth says the extra 775 square feet is “just perfect for us.”
“We’ll have a lot more kitchen space, which is what we’ve needed.”
The Seafood Shop is something of an old-fashioned fish market like the ones in Eberth’s native Mobile, Ala.
What she calls her heat-and-eat or take-and bake dishes “have become huge” with customers, Eberth says.
“They all want something they can grab and go.”
She has soups and meals such as shrimp scampi with spinach fettuccine, blackened tilapia with cilantro-lime brown rice and salmon pot pies.
“Everything’s homemade from scratch.”
The meals have “rapidly become 25 percent of our business.”
“I thought I’d be making a pot of chowder or a pot of gumbo every other week,” Eberth says.
Depending on the time of year, sometimes the meals comprise 35 percent of her business. Fresh fish, which varies according to the season, is the rest of the business.
The wild Alaskan salmon season is coming to an end, but Eberth says she regularly has other salmon, halibut and sole. Sometimes she has mahi-mahi, snapper, grouper, and Chilean sea bass. The store always carries oysters, both imported and from the Gulf.
With the new space, Eberth says, “We’re increasing the number of our offerings.”
She’s also expanding store hours. Instead of being open five days a week, the store will be open six — Monday through Saturday.
“God willing, we’re targeting November 1st as an opening date,” Eberth says.
The store will be open until late October and then closed a few days for the move.
The Seafood Shop sign is already down, which is a concern since the store is still open for a few more weeks in Normandie.
“I’m always worried about what change means for business,” Eberth says.
She says she has about 500 regular customers.
“We’re part of their routine. We’re on their route.”
Eberth says she’s not overly concerned about that route changing.
“For years, we’ve been a destination.”
At the new store, there will be limited seating available and space for visiting, which Eberth says seems to be something her customers want.
“It’s become a community of people. People always seem to run into old friends, and I get to know the customers,” she says.
“It’s like a neighborhood on a big Wichita community scale.”