Anyone who has ever sampled seafood in the Midwest have likely never thought to use the word “fresh,” unless of course they were speaking of the day’s catch from one of the area’s plethora of lakes. Items like calamari, shrimp, scallops, crab, and lobster were appreciated for their overall taste, but not necessarily for their freshness. Enter Deep Blue Seafood, Fargo/Moorhead’s first independently and sustainably-sourced fresh fish restaurant and market.
How did a fresh seafood restaurant wind up in North Dakota? According to Marketing and Sales Manager John Mittleider, it was a process. “The original plan was simply to open a fresh seafood market in Fargo as there really weren’t many options available for fresh, diverse types of seafood,” he explained. “We realized we would need kitchen facilities for preparing the dips, salads, spreads, etc. that we intended to offer and since we were opening a kitchen, we decided that offering lunches would make sense as there aren’t many seafood-focused restaurants in the area.”
It is the quality of the product and the high demand that made the most sense to John. “We felt we would be able to offer something that seemed to have a demand, and no existing businesses to really provide for that demand.”
Owning a business has been many years in the making for John and his wife Busola, also known as “Bee.” John has over ten years’ experience owning a business that distributes frozen food via route sales (Off the Hook Seafood). “We made the decision to focus solely on seafood in 2013 and started a new business to do that, focusing on the oil field areas in western North Dakota,” he said. “Bee owns the company (Deep Blue Seafood) and has experience as a business analyst with a large local business benefits company.”
Although Deep Blue Seafood has only been open a short time, John and Bee are excited about the reaction they have received. “I think people are responding positively to our concept because up to this point, there really haven’t been any sources for a wide range of fresh seafood products. Most of what is offered elsewhere are things like tilapia, farmed salmon, pre-frozen tuna etc.,” he explained. “We strive to offer products that people may not be familiar with and usually aren’t found in the FM area. We have brought in items such as live sea urchin, fresh gulf shrimp, live blue crabs, whole black sea bass, and Mako shark to name a few.”
Deep Blue Seafood offers a constantly rotating selection of fresh fish from vendors in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Florida, and have recently been speaking with sources in California to add more types of Pacific fish. “We also carry frozen items such as cold water lobster, king crab, Dungeness crab, Sea Scallops, Alligator, Octopus etc.,” John explained.
The future of the restaurant and market will involve more hands-on activities and products. One of its goals is to help make seafood preparations easier for our customers, so they will also carry a full line of seasonings and even supplies for making sushi at home. “In our service cases we offer some amazing maple wood smoked fish that we source from northern Wisconsin and multiple flavors of pickled herring,” he said. “Within the next week we will open our deli service counter and offer house-made dips, sauces, salads, and other specialties.”
Right now, the restaurant is focused on lunches and the kitchen closes at 6:00 pm. That will likely change as the business grows. “The first change we hope to make is to extend our hours somewhat to be more available to customers who would like to visit us during dinner hours,” John said.
Another change will likely involve space. “Our seating is currently limited to 24 seats, but we hope to be able to secure additional space for a live bar featuring oysters and clams as well as additional seating,” John explained. Such modifications will be decided based on the restaurant’s growth over the coming months. “We also have plans to obtain a beer and wine license, as we have received multiple requests.”
If the thought of fresh seafood excites you, a visit to Deep Blue Seafood may be in order. “We strive to use the best quality ingredients we can source,” John said. “We use wild caught shrimp in all our prepared and menu items, which are hand breaded or battered to order.” The restaurant will even shuck oysters when time permits.
The word “fresh” is no longer an anomaly in Fargo/Moorhead. How fresh, you ask? The restaurant will soon be implementing an opt-in text program to let customers know when their favorite items are available, which can then be purchased within hours of the product coming off the plane. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
Deep Blue Seafood is located at 4480 23rd Ave. S. in Fargo. For a complete list of menu items as well as ordering information, visit www.dbseafood.com or give John and Bee a call at 701-566-8776.
By Jamee Larson