Seafood Restaurants: Full Guide on Starting a Seafood Venue

March 25, 2024
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Unlike fast food restaurants and cafeterias, seafood restaurants can offer unique experiences to their guests. This is achieved via a well-thought menu that includes seafood pairings and seasonal specialties, interesting service practices, or a non-traditional interior. That is why it is easier for seafood restaurants to stand out from the rest.

Opening a seafood restaurant can be done even with a limited budget. There are many smaller venues with only a couple of items on their menu. A small casual dining restaurant is a good example. Also, after 2020, many ghost kitchen restaurants started offering takeaway and delivery of seafood.

Eating seafood is becoming increasingly popular. The importance of quality food is crucial and its consumption is increasing.

Tips for Opening a Seafood Restaurant

Whether you already manage a seafood restaurant or are planning to open one, follow these tips.

Prepare a SWOT Analysis and a Business Plan.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that this is essential for any business. Proper planning and understanding the potential weaknesses of your company can be the difference between a failing and a profitable venue. A restaurant business plan should include not only financial prognosis but also your plans for staff, technology, marketing, and other essential elements of a business. You need to do a proper SWOT analysis for restaurants prior.

Location is the key to success.

The most important thing for restaurant's success is certainly its location. If you’re considering opening a small seafood restaurant, find a pedestrian-heavy area, a place near an attraction, or a place tourists often visit.

Luxurious seafood restaurants are usually found in the city center or in the best neighborhoods. Proximity to transport links is also a must as well as available parking spots.

Use the Latest Technology in Restaurants

Proper restaurant management software will help you automate various restaurant operations

Some important technologies to consider:

Don’t Make Cuts in Marketing

Proper marketing and customer acquisition strategy are the foundation of every business. Implement good practices in social media marketing for restaurants

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Health Benefits of Eating Seafood

It is widely known that quality food is good for your health. The main reason behind this is the omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood products are among the richest sources of these nutrients. Omega-3 help reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and improve brain function. A lack of omega-3 in your diet can lead to thin nails, brittle hair, and dry skin.

Seafood is also crucial for proper weight management. Most diets include a variety of seafood products. The main reason behind this is that they are low on carbohydrates. An additional benefit is that you feel full longer after consuming seafood.

Seafood is also rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are important for keeping the health and structure of your bones.

Yet another benefit of seafood is it helps improve the immune system. Being rich in selenium, zinc, and vitamins, regular consumption of seafood will improve your health and your body’s response to viruses.

Popular Seafood Dishes from the World

  1. Sushi (Japan) is probably the most popular seafood worldwide. 
  2. Sashimi (Japan) is something a lot of people confuse with sushi. It is a delicacy that consists of thinly sliced seafood meat.
  3. Fish and Chips (UK) is one of the favorite dishes in the UK. White fish filets, freshly dipped in an egg and bread crumb batter, and then fried. It is usually combined with fried potato slices on the side. 
  4. Crab Cakes (US) are usually served with sides like fresh greens, fries, tartar, or Worcester sauce. This specialty consists of crab meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasoning. They are very popular in the US.
  5. Grilled Octopus (Greece) is something you’ll often find in island nations’ cuisine. Grilled squid is another excellent option to order when at a Greek restaurant. 
  6. Surf and Turf (US) is a great dish for meat enjoyers around the world, but especially in the United States. It is a combination of meat and seafood. 
  7. Ceviche (Peru) is the national dish of Peru. It’s popular throughout South America. The dish consists of slices of seasoned raw fish with a side of chili peppers, beans, onions, or tortilla chips.

Technology in Seafood Restaurants

Restaurant technological integrations can be in different fields such as process automation, customer satisfaction, or software. Incorporating new technology in your venue is a great investment in the long run.

  1. Online ordering. Nowadays, businesses rely a lot on online ordering. Therefore, you should integrate it as part of your process. Not having deliveries means you are losing a huge market share and profits.
  1. Inventory management software. It helps restaurants track their stock. In the case of seafood restaurants, this is very important. Seafood products often have a short expiration time and need to be stored in specific conditions. 
  1. QR code for restaurant menus. They save time for both your clients and your staff. The printing costs of regular menus are also much higher than the maintenance of QR menus. Not to mention updating them is much easier.
  1. Automated reservations technology lets your guests reserve a table with just a few clicks. A simple way to incorporate it is a restaurant reservations app.
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Seafood Pairing Drinks

Seafood pairing with wine is the most preferred option. Usually, white wine is the obvious choice when eating fish. The most common choices are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling. The choice of wine depends on the texture and seasoning of the dish. Rich meals are usually combined with light whites like Sauvignon Blanc.

Some fish dishes can go well with rose or even red wine. A good example will be grilled salmon or smoked fish. 

Seafood pairing with beer is also a great combination. Beer is a common ingredient in some shellfish recipes. Usually, the preferred craft beer is a light one like a pale ale. Citrusy-flavored beers can also complement seafood dishes.

Some reputable seafood restaurants have wine-food pairing menus.

Cooking Seafood at Home Tips

How to Cook Shrimp

In some recipes, it’s advised to remove the shell after the shrimp is cooked. This will make the dish taste better. It’s important to devein the shrimp by removing the dark vein that runs through its back, below the shell. Shrimp cooks very fast. The main thing to remember is not to overcook the shrimp.

How to Cook Salmon

The general rule is that salmon needs 10 minutes of cooking for every inch of thickness. With this fish, seasoning is very important. But even simple herbs and olive oil can be good enough since the salmon meat is delicious.

How to Cook Lobster

In most cases, people are cooking lobster tails or claws. They should be grilled or boiled for about 8-10 minutes. After that, cut the top shell and the meat is exposed. Serve with proper seasoning and garnishes.

How to Cook Crab

Cooking crabs takes roughly 12-15 minutes of boiling. The meat goes well with pasta, cream sauces, mayo, and fresh vegetables. Minced crab meat is an ingredient in various baked pastry meals like crab cakes. 

How to Cook Oysters

They can be grilled, fried, baked, or steamed. Oysters are most commonly an appetizer, but there are recipes with oysters as a main course. Ingredients that combine well with oysters include butter, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, lemon, spinach, rice, and white wine.

Keep in mind that consuming raw oysters brings health risks. Thousands of people in the US get vibriosis yearly from consuming raw oysters. Even though some venues serve them that way, it’s not recommended to consume raw oysters.

Seasonal Seafood Dishes

One of the ways for a seafood restaurant to increase interest and the average order value is to introduce seasonal menus. In them, guests can check for fresh and seasonal seafood dishes or seafood pairings

Summer Seafood Dishes

In the summer, most people prefer light dishes paired with a cold drink. An example of such a seasonal seafood dish is a grilled octopus salad. Fresh vegetables combined with grilled octopus, garlic, olive oil, vinaigrette, and Greek herbs for additional flavor.

Southeast Asian cuisine is known for its seafood dishes. They often combine fish with fruits such as mango. A great choice for your restaurant will be to offer fish and mango salsa. The plating is very important in this case. Make it worthy of a social media post!

Winter Seafood Dishes

Cold days call for hot dishes. A good example is salmon Wellington. This classic puff pastry dish is a very popular choice. Recipes include various combinations of spinach or garlic butter. Some guests might prefer different levels of doneness of the salmon. Make sure to perfect that. 

Seafood chowder is an all-time favorite meal for many seafood enjoyers. Its creamy texture can be achieved with milk as the main ingredient. You can experiment with combinations of different fish and shellfish products. Furthermore, the dish can be prepared with the freshest seafood items available in your restaurant inventory.

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Seafood Plating: How to Do it Right

Plating is the presentation of a served dish. With seafood meals, it’s an integral part of the experience. The dish should not only be tasty, but aesthetically pleasing too. 

Balance of Colors and Textures

The essence of seafood plating is to combine the colors. A grilled meal is often in the red and brown palette of colors. Thus, it combines well with green vegetable puree. Furthermore, the crispness of the grilled meal is complemented by the texture of the puree.

Consider the Height

Many chefs aim for height when plating dishes. Stacked meal components create a dynamic and interesting presentation. When plating seafood meals, very often chefs use shellfish to increase the height.

Edible Garnishes

Many guests enjoy meals more if everything on their plates is edible. Nowadays, there are numerous options for tasty garnishes to assist you with the seafood plating process. Herbs, microgreens, edible pearls, and edible flowers. The only limit to a dish’s magnificence is the chef’s imagination. 

Combined Seafood Platters

Seafood is often served as catering on special occasions. In those cases, many guests prefer to experiment and combine their plates on their own. Prepare platters of differently cooked shrimp, salmon with different levels of doneness, various types of lobster, and other lightly and strongly seasoned seafood platters. These can be combined with a big platter of garnishes, citruses, and sauces. This way, guests will have more freedom in pleasing their taste by choosing their preferred seafood options and sides.

Be Careful with the Sauce

Chefs often use sauce during the plating process. However, it should be only used to complement the dish, not overwhelm it. Simple dots, short lines, and simple geometric compositions can often be seen on plates in some of the best seafood restaurants. One exception to the rule is when the sauce is the seasoning itself. 

Seafood Sustainability Standards

Seafood is an expendable resource. Luckily, it’s a renewable one. In order to help keep the ocean ecosystems intact, there are many sustainability standards certificates. Two of them are the most recognizable ones - MSC and ASC. 

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

This program certifies wild fishery practices. It has a recognized blue tick logo. Many customers look for certification logos when grocery shopping. Restaurants should also use seafood vendors who offer certified products. The MSC was founded by the WWF and its standards are updated regularly with recommendations from scientists. This makes it probably the best program for wild-caught seafood products.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

Just like the MSC, this program was founded by the WWF. The main difference between the ASC and the MSC is that the former certifies companies operating in the farmed seafood business. These can be both fish & shellfish farms. You can recognize ASC-certified products by their green fish tick logo.

Business owners in the food & beverage industry should consider supplying seafood products only from MSC and ASC-certified vendors. Choosing environmentally-friendly options is becoming an increasing trend for consumers. Therefore, your guests will most certainly prefer their seafood dishes to be eco-friendly and with minimum impact on ecosystems and the environment.

Seafood certifications are not mandatory. However, if you want to increase the value of your venue and showcase the reputable MSC and ASC logos on your menus, make sure to supply only certified seafood products.

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