So as I said, it is nice to see nice guys finish first. This has been a glimpse of Charlie’s story and it is still continuing today. He and I have talked quite a bit about what his plans are for the rest of this season to keep growing his business.
He currently provides seafood for three quality restaurants in the Blue Ridge Valley: Local Roots, River and Rail, and Lucky’s. These three prestigious restaurants have been consistent with their support and purchases from Charlie. When I was beside Charlie at the various markets you know you have a quality product when the owners of these establishments come and buy his seafood for their personal use as well as for their businesses. The only reason he still isn’t supplying seafood to his first restaurant, The Harvest Table, is it is so far out of the way it was adding several hours to his day to get the seafood to them.
He is also still doing the three markets: downtown in the City Market, the West Village Market, which is in the strip mall by Northcross school while they used to be located in the Tanglewood parking lot, and the Grandin Market. A majority of his business is pre-order from his impressive website. The orders have to be in by Tuesday. He buys enough for customers that don’t pre-order but so many times, after the first 2 markets, all he has left to sell at the 3rd market are his pre-orders. So I don’t know if the early bird gets the worm, but he certainly gets the fish!! He was doing more markets in the valley but it was just spreading him too thin and it was proving not to be worth it.
A big change Charlie has made has been instead of getting up at 3am on Wednesday morning, driving 5 ½ hours, making his purchases at the dock, driving back 5 ½ hours back to the “Noke” then a couple of hours delivering. He goes out to dinner and sees what the restaurants in Topsail are featuring. He then is able to be one of the first at the docks on Wednesday, gets his truck packed up, and drives back 5 ½ hours, maybe even stopping and having lunch with someone. Now when he delivers to the restaurants it is not a mad dash but he is able to stay and chat, see what is trending, ask the chefs what they are getting request for. It is no longer a race against the clock to get it all completed in one day. A dash to the destination. He now is starting to appreciate the journey of the trip.
When asking him what are the things he would like to improve on, he wants to continue to provide good customer service with his current customers. He plans on continuing to provide quality products while listening and being available for these loyal customers. By doing this, his regular customers, from word of mouth, recommend Local Seafood Delivery to their friends and family, and then these people become regular customers that Charlie hopes to cultivate. He now has a radio commercial at 101.5 and these articles about Charlie in this blog by yours truly have also helped. People are wanting to place orders through me so I refer them to his website and to get his newsletter.
One of his goals is to expand his business down to Smith Mountain Lake. I thought there may be quite a bit of competition down there but Charlie said no. He will need to hire someone that will be able to run the market down there and also try to get some of the Smith Mountain Lake business in the locally owned restaurants. He is hoping he can get an intern from Roanoke College as a paid intern. I, of course, think that this is a great idea, because I have had nothing but wonderful experiences working with the Roanoke College students. They have all been hard working, intelligent, talented, respectful, eager to learn, and have great ideas if asked. I feel sure he will be able to find a qualified applicant, and if they have an entrepreneurial heart there is no one better to learn from than Charlie. I’m sure he will advertise when he is ready to start interviewing for that position.
Another new venture Charlie will be getting involved in will be joining the Wildflower Perspectives team as part of the editing department. He will be starting out part time now and when his season finishes at the end of September or October for the winter he will be taking on more responsibility with increased hours. He will also help with the communications team. He and I have worked together quite a bit in the past and we are good together. I think large scale, he thinks small scale. I help him dream bigger and he helps keep me grounded. The one thing we have in common is we prefer quality over a rush job.
Next week we will have the videos and the new pics as promised with some more recipes. We will also have FAQ’s with Charlie. The questions that he is asked the most, some that are funny, and some you are shocked he is asked at all.C
-1lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, tails removed, sliced in small pieces
-1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-1 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber, chopped
-1 cup seeded finely chopped red or green tomato
-½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
-½ cup finely chopped red onion
-1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (serrano will make spicier)
-1 fresh avocado, cut and cubed into small pieces
-kosher or sea salt, for seasoning
Put chopped shrimp in a bowl and pour ½ cup of lime juice to cover. Cover container with wrap and refrigerate 1 ½ hours. Lime juice will cook the shrimp.
Add chopped red or green tomato, add chopped cilantro, add chopped red onion, add minced chilis and refrigerate another 2 hours.
Add chopped avocado, cucumber, and remainder of lime juice. Mix and refrigerate until serving. Add salt to taste. Serve.
-Eight, 5-6 catfish fillets, skin removed
-1 cup milk
-2 eggs whipped
-4 cups all purpose flour
-1 cup cornmeal
-Old Bay Seasoning
-Oil for frying
Heat oil in deep frying pan. Mix milk and whipped eggs to make wash. Add salt and Old Bay Seasoning in bowl with flour and cornmeal. Take fillets and put through wash. Dredge through flour and cornmeal mixture and drop into hot oil. Deep fry each fillet for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with lemon wedges and Gourmet Tartar Sauce or Cocktail Sauce.