A look at 3 chains changing the way we look at seafood

Shuckin' Shack, Slapfish and Prawn take casual approaches

Not so long ago those who didn’t live near the water but who wanted to eat fresh seafood had to choose between expensive fine-dining restaurants or fry-it-all fast-food joints.

Now, a wave of multi-unit, fast casual seafood concepts are stepping in to fill the gap.

“We’ve seen the space grow significantly in the 12 years we’ve been around,” said Jonathan Weathington, CEO of 16-unit Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar. “Because consumers are being more health conscious, they’re learning there’s a lot of benefit to eating things from the ocean.”

Similarly, chef Andrew Gruel, founder of Slapfish, a 19-unit concept committed to serving sustainable species, credits the shift toward more consumption of seafood to a growing awareness of its benefits.

“I think we’re going to see a massive increase in consumption of seafood,” he said.

That increase isn’t only for the short term, said John Shin, CEO of Prawn, a 2-unit seafood concept in Southern California developed by fine-dining chef Mark Peel. He predicted that seafood would be the protein of choice in the decades ahead.

May 1, 2019: This story has been updated with the correct location and opening date of the first Shuckin' Shack.

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