Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 2/24/2021 – Founded by Mackey Ungaro, his son Henry, and his nephew Tommy Amalfitano, San Pedro Fish Market opened the doors to its first location in 1956, originally called Vista Seafood. In the early ’60s, Vista Seafood was relocated to the beautiful waterfront location which would later become the Ports O’ Call Village. This waterfront location would be rebuilt in 1982 and renamed the San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant, taking its title from the waterfront community in which it’s based. San Pedro Fish Market has become one of the top ten most Instagrammed restaurants in the country highlighting their World Famous Shrimp Tray. What is the recipe for success during the pandemic? We spoke with Michael Ungaro about the San Pedro Fish Market thriving during these challenging times.
What is San Pedro Fish Market doing to continue to survive and thrive during the pandemic?
We’ve invested over $50,000 between San Pedro and Long Beach to implement a huge list of new practices to not only be inline with COVID regulations but also to make sure our customers feel safe and it shows. We’ve actually been told by inspectors and nurses that we’re doing more than almost anyone else in our industry to provide a safe environment.
Although sales have been significantly impacted by the closures, we’ve been amazed at how loyal our customer base has been considering the restrictions. We’ve implemented several third-party delivery options, activated our new San Pedro Fish Market app for your smartphones which allows customers to place orders online for any of our locations, and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in our grocery stores and online sales. We shipped World Famous Shrimp Trays to 48 states over the holidays!
Take us back to Valentine’s Day. What was it like this year compared to past years?
Valentine’s Day is always a busy day for us, especially when it falls in the middle of President’s Day weekend and the weather is nice…which is what we had this year! I would estimate that between all of our locations, we served food (Patio and Take-Out) for nearly 5,000 people; 10,000 for the entire weekend. Not a record for us, but extremely strong considering all of the restrictions/guidelines we’ve implemented.
Your takeout numbers as a fast-casual Grille surpassed dine-in numbers from before COVID. What is your secret to success?
San Pedro Fish Market is known for serving fresh high-quality seafood with a great family atmosphere. Over the years we’ve been able to celebrate birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, first dates – all the special moments in life – with our customers in the restaurants. In 2020, our fans continued to celebrate milestones with San Pedro Fish Market takeout seafood trays at home.
Prior to COVID, our takeout business was mostly non-existent. As we invented new ways to pivot to take-out, it not only became a substantial revenue source, it actually surpassed what we were doing for dine-in at our smaller Grille locations. Takeout and delivery introduced an entirely new customer base to our food which is fantastic! Despite the December and January closures, we are able to produce enough takeout and delivery orders to feed over 75,000 people between all of our locations. That’s incredible considering we never did take out or delivery before 2020 except for on Christmas Eve.
San Pedro Fish Market is celebrating its 65 Anniversary in 2021. What can we expect?
San Pedro Fish Market turns 65 this year! We’re planning to commemorate our rich family history and celebrate food and family all year with giveaways, new menu items, and limited edition apparel and merch! Be sure to follow on social media to stay in the loop.
What are you most proud of over the past year? Can you share a story about your employees?
My employees and my family are what I’m most proud of. In order to survive 2020, we had to make some extremely challenging changes and re-invent the way we ran ALL of our businesses. For decades we’ve had very specific practices in place that we train our staff to follow in order to function successfully. COVID made all of them irrelevant! We had to invent entirely new ways to operate our business, incorporate new technologies and tools, and figure out how to plug all of that into a business where for most of the year we either did not see our customers, or we had to talk to them from behind a mask, shield and/or dividers. Everyone in the enterprise had to deal with the discomfort of unlearning and relearning how to do their jobs and they did! The fact that we survived the year is 100% thanks to our staff and leadership team!
San Pedro Fish Market has fans living in every state who visit on vacations or business trips to Southern California. Over the last decade, we’ve tried to make our products easier to enjoy without all the travel using grocery stores and shipping via e-commerce. Thanks to 3rd party delivery and Social Media, we will soon be able to offer our World Famous Shrimp Trays much more easily and within an hour of a customer’s craving. Stay tuned for more on this!
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