May 10, 2024 - News

Locals Seafood brings the coast to the Triangle every day

A storefront that says Locals Seafood on it

Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Ryan Speckman's day begins around 6am, when he starts firing calls and texts to fishermen up and down the North Carolina coast β€”Β What did you reel in? How many pounds do you have? he asks.

  • So begins the daily dance and logistical puzzle of bringing fresh seafood from the state's sounds and coastal waters to the Triangle's restaurants and grocery stores.

Why it matters: Locals Seafood, which Speckman co-founded with Lin Peterson in 2010, has been one of the most influential players in the Triangle's food scene since it launched as a roadside fishmonger selling North Carolina shrimp.

  • Next week it will open a market in Raleigh where customers can purchase fresh fish onsite.

Locals Seafood is still one of the few places selling only North Carolina-caught fish in the Triangle and throughout the state.

  • Over the years, they've also helped educate consumers on the quality of North Carolina fish that had been traditionally overlooked β€” like sheepshead, black drum and mullet β€” or served under different names for years.
  • "It took us about 10 years to really build up the demand" for sheepshead, Speckman said, because no one really had experience eating it anymore.
Fish on ice at Locals Seafood
Photo: Courtesy of Baxter Miller

Driving the news: Next Saturday, Locals Seafood will debut a 10,000-square-foot processing and cold storage facility and market in East Raleigh that will be one of the largest inland fish processing facilities in the state.

  • The space triples the business's capacity to process seafood.
  • From there, multiple vans will traverse every day to the Northern Outer Banks, Southern Outer Banks and the Wilmington area to pick up fish, shrimp and oysters from local operations.
  • That same day, workers in Raleigh will fillet and prepare the fish for delivery to restaurants, grocery stores and Locals' own storefronts for the next day.
A black drum fish
Black drum brought in from the coast. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

What they're saying: "If you go and you see our fish display, that's what's actually being caught in North Carolina right now," Speckman told Axios, pointing out some black drum and a tuna collar.

  • "You can't say that about other fish displays" in the area, he added.

State of play: Locals now delivers fish throughout the Triangle, parts of the Triad and Asheville. The mountain town's thriving restaurant scene has been a particular source of growth in the past year.

  • 90% of its sales are wholesale to restaurants, Whole Foods, the Durham Co-op and Weaver Street Markets.

What's next: Locals plans to hold classes at its grand opening on shucking an oyster, filleting a fish, cleaning a softshell crab and deveining shrimp.

  • In the future, it plans to open a space next to its facility where customers can eat food or hang out in a beer garden.

Address: 1408 Corporation Pkwy., in East Raleigh

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