The Olde Port Fisheries, Inc. located in the end of Harford Pier in Port San Luis and the Olde Port Fresh Seafood Market and Grill in Arroyo Grande have changed owners. The proud new owners are Butch and Barbara Powers, who are longtime figures in the Central Coast fishing industry. The Powers are owners of the Treasure Chest at both Avila and Hanford piers that sell trinkets under $20. They also started the first live fishery in the port 30 years ago, where BJ’s Fresh Fish is located and until recently, Butch was a commercial fisherman.
“We don’t have enough to do, so we decided to start this,” Barbara said with a laugh.
The Powers are already hard at work in renovating the historic site.
“We’re just barely scratching the surface with the little changes we’ve made. We’ve painted and done a lot of clean up and repairs,” said Barbara. A long standing fillet table has been removed and they have plans on having live fish available for purchase. “Once May 1 swings around, we’ll have fisherman bringing in lingcod and various rockfish, and of course, crab.”
The live fish tanks will also insure that fresh fish is always available even if the weather does not cooperate with the local fisherman’s schedules. “First and foremost we want to support our local fisherman and buy their product,” said Barbara.
The Powers will also offer quick eats for visitors and campers that make it down to the pier. “We are trying to do a little more ‘snack and go’ type of stuff,” said Barbara.
The fishery currently offers fresh steamed crab. Patrons have the chance to eat it hot right on the pier, or the crab can be blanched if the customer wants to consume it at a different locale without fear of the crustacean being overcooked. “There hasn’t been an opportunity for people to eat these crabs hot out of the steamer…you should be able to at a seafood port,” said Barbara.
The top sellers are oysters, crabs and smoked fish. The oysters are provided fresh by Grassy Bay Oyster Company in Morro Bay, which tends and sorts by hands all the oysters they sell. Currently, the oysters sold tend to be on the larger side and take about 3 years to cultivate. The Powers have already discussed plans with Grassy Bay about purchasing smaller oysters for “shooters” and expect them to be a big selling item.
“We go through a lot of oysters,” said Barbara. “People come from all over for those oysters.”
This time of year, they go through 50 pounds of smoked salmon a week. The Powers are also exploring the option of selling more exotic seafood products such as octopus or whelk, which is a snail. The fishery will also display more whole fish on ice.
As an active member in he community, Barbara said she would like to see a grassroots effort in the restoration of Avila Pier. Since the pier affects the whole community, she thinks that every single store in Avila should have a donation can to raise money to repair the landmark.
For more information, visit; http://www.oldeportfish.com/contact.html
Photo and Story by Mark A. Diaz