Portland is known for so many things, and its exquisite taste in seafood is certainly near the top of the list. With how close we are to the western coast, serving seafood that’s fresh and safe to eat is an important staple of how things are run, and our guest this week on the PDX Small Business Network Podcast certainly believes the very same. Sustainable seafood at a cost you can afford in the heart of downtown Portland might sound too good to be true, but Southpark Seafood breaks the mold with their modern atmosphere and deep care for the food they serve, and how they obtain it.
Southpark Seafood in Portland:
Jason Gerlt, general manager of Southpark Seafood, is here with me today to talk about what their restaurant is all about! By maintaining a certain level of safety in the way that the fish, the food that they serve, and the way that they operate with the wonderful local farmers that provide their food, Jason gives us the details on how they came to be the large success they are today. Let’s get started!
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- Jason tells us why and how Southpark Seafood is committed to sustainability. It’s the core of their business, he says, and the ownership located in the Northwest is very concerned about the environment and the future. They’re particularly concerned when it comes to healthy oceans and seafood, and by avoiding techniques used in fishing and farming seafood that’s harmful to the environment—and the seafood itself—they maintain a level of safety to keep the ocean and the creatures who live there as safe as possible.
- Jason also tells us about Southpark Seafood’s partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program! They’re one of only 5 restaurants that are associated with this platform, and this program keeps them up to date on fishing techniques, as well as the seafood that’s available, and that’s good for the environment. With this helpful team by their side, they do not serve anything that’s damaging to the long-term health of the oceans.
- Jason talks with us about the vendors that they use for their food, stating that they know them and they trust them to be honest about how the products they serve have been farmed. In terms of the farmers they use, Jason says they prefer smaller, locally sourced farms to provide their fresh food. Since oysters are delivered to the restaurant on a daily basis, Jason gets to know these people very well, and they build amazingly strong relationships with them because of it. Because of this, they have the largest oyster selection in Portland!
- With that, Jason shifts towards their oyster bar, which is the biggest in Portland with 13 seats. The restaurant as a whole has been around for 20 years, but they’ve since shifted drastically in terms of what they want to serve, and what their menu reflects. Last year, they remodeled their location to expand and improve, and with that expansion came a bigger and better oyster bar! You can sit right at the counter in front of a display that shows all the oyster they have available for the day—usually there’s about a dozen offered. This display, Jason says, makes it more fun for the customers to see the process of oysters being shucked, as well as reading their in-depth menu on what they offer, their suggestions, and the variety of ways you can eat the oysters they serve.
- Jason tells us about the kind of atmosphere you can expect when visiting Southpark Seafood, explaining that all walks of life are welcome to enjoy what they have to offer. They categorize themselves as fine dining, but they try to make sure they’re available to anyone who wants to come in. Because of their location, they do get a lot of people joining them before an event—a show at a theatre—or after work, but regardless of if you’re wearing a 3 piece suit, or a t-shirt and jeans, you’re welcome!
- Jason gives us a brief history of the head chef at Southpark Seafood, Chris Robinson! He came to them about a year ago, just after the remodel, and a new space meant a new chef. He believes that great good starts at the source, and he builds amazing relationships with farmers who bring them fresh food daily. He’s focused on making things fresh and seasonal and strays away from doing things that are over the top. He uses the best ingredients to make their food shine, and with his expansive culinary history, it’s no surprise that their food is nothing sort of delectable.
- When it comes to visiting Southpark Seafood, Jason always recommends that you get a reservation. They’re located in such an event-driven area that if you want to come by on a night that also coincides with something happening in town, they book up very quickly. They do, however, have a dedicated space open to guests at all times—with 200 seats in the house total, there are 50 seats in the bar area that are first come, first served. With the 13 seat oyster bar and 2 additional tables in the area, the staff always does it’s best to make sure that everyone has a place to sit if they want to come by.
- Lastly, Jason tells us about their collaboration with the Eagle Creek Fire Restoration. The Stevenson family owns the company and founded the town of Stevenson, Washington. Therefore, the Gorge has a special place in the hearts of the business, and the family, and it was hard on everyone when the space burnt up. Southpark Seafood has utilized some native fishing operations in the Gorge to provide them with Columbia River Salmon, and after purchasing all the salmon they had available, they started a fundraiser to help them bounce back! By donating 10% of their revenue from selling the salmon towards the fishing operations—and with the staff raising money on their own that the restaurant matched at the end of the month—they’ve raised over $2,000 towards their cause!
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- The CLICK Technique Book
- Southpark Seafood
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program
- Eagle Creek Fire Restoration
Did Jason not get to answer a burning question on your mind? No problem! You can send him an email, or contact him through any of the social media listed above. Southpark Seafood works extremely hard to provide the Portland area with quality, fresh, and safe seafood, so make sure you give them a visit when you’re in the area!
— those who aren’t familiar can get help, print a daily menu (since they get them fresh every day), with that there’s details on where they’re from, the sizes, flavor profile — fun experience to pick and choose which one you want to try and compare them to the menus tasting notes — service staff that’s very knowledgeable in oysters, very helpful when it comes to learning about them, how to eat them, and make suggestions
— the menu offers things like a burger and pizza, rib eye steak — you can go from items that are delicious for a great value to things that are more expensive to procure