Coastal Seafoods has been the premiere location for seafood in the Twin Cities for decades. The story goes that former banker Suzanne Weinstein drove a shipment of tilefish from a family fishery in New Jersey to Minnesota, and was selling it out of her bathtub. From those humble beginnings, she opened a retail store in Seward in 1985 and another in St. Paul in 1992. Humble accurately described that 600-square-foot retail space, too. It felt (and smelled) like a seafood shack, which was part of its charm.
But since the operation was sold to Chicago’s Fortune Fish & Gourmet, the local staff had dreams of opening a larger space in the new headquarters across Minnehaha Avenue.Mission accomplished. After more than two years! Coastal announced this project in 2018 and opened it just before the end of August 2020.
They’ve been hopping, with an active curbside fish ordering program. COVID-19 has certainly hurt Fortune’s distribution business to restaurants, but their distribution to grocery stores and their direct sales have been blowing up.
The new shop is a huge market with the most beautiful seafood counter I’ve ever seen. Artfully displayed fish and shellfish, along with huge freezers for sustainable frozen shrimp, coolers with the largest selection of beautifully smoked seafood you’ll find the metro area, and then all sorts of other gourmet cooking and grocery products from Fortune’s catalog. It’s really a showplace for restaurants who can come in and see many of the products they could be ordering, and we get to be the beneficiary of that in buying it directly.
There’s also a market, with seating, so you’ll ultimately be able to buy a fish sandwich or a poke bowl. They’re still setting that up, as well as classes – I took a sushi class in the back room at Coastal a few years ago and let’s just say it wasn’t exactly an elegant experience.
For two years, Coastal’s development director Chris Blankenbaker has been planning the branding and layout of this store. In this picture, you see Coastal’s original logo. There are so many nods to the history of the business built by Weinstein—it’s pretty cool. Blankenbaker worked for Whole Foods as a seafood buyer and worked in retail seafood around the country, so he had pretty clear ideas as to what he wanted to do here.
There are surprises: Coastal will have more than just seafood (you’ll find duck and beef and other meats) as well as a whole cheese and charcuterie counter. So if you live in Seward, you finally have an option to go get some freshly cut cheese.
Exciting times in retail for sure. Can’t wait to see what both stores become for the next generations.
Coastal Seafoods: 2007 E. 24th St., Minneapolis; coastalseafoods.com