This week the Herald speaks with John “Seafood Johnny” Mittleider, owner of Off the Hook Seafood, a seafood truck making stops in Grand Forks and across North Dakota.
Q: How did you get into this business?
A: We started Off The Hook Seafood in 2013 when the oil boom in western North Dakota brought folks from all over the country into the region. Lots of these people came from the coasts and were used to having access to seafood, but there wasn’t much available to them here. We saw an opportunity to provide that seafood and started by serving the Williston and Watford City areas. From that customer base, our reputation grew and now we cover nearly all of North Dakota. We’re based out of Fargo where we have a seafood market and catering business called Deep Blue Seafood. Business is going great, and we currently serve towns throughout North Dakota with our sales route.
Q: At what locations in North Dakota do you stop?
A: We now cover over 30 different communities that we serve at least once a month, some every two weeks, with Jamestown and Bismarck getting a stop every Friday. We post our schedule on our Facebook group “Off The Hook Seafood Sales.” Anybody can join either by searching the group name or through our Facebook business page @offthehookseafoodfargo so folks can stay informed on where and when to find us.
Q: Where do you get your seafood?
A: We’re fortunate to have found some outstanding vendors on all three coasts that fly product into Fargo on a regular basis. We typically receive four to five shipments each week that allows us to offer the freshest product possible. We welcome special requests and do our best to fill orders for hard-to-find items.
Q: How do you like the work?
A: I love what I do; I get to meet people from all over. It’s really rewarding; I know our service makes people happy because we frequently have people thanking us for what we do. I’m on the road four days a week, year round, to serve our customers. I’m blessed to have my 78-year-old dad come with me on my weekend routes, it’s great to be able to spend time with him and share experiences on the road.
Q: Do you have any plans to open any other brick and mortar stores in the region?
A: We don’t currently have plans to open other physical locations in the area. We’re focusing on several other areas of growth including event catering through our Deep Blue Seafood location in Fargo. We also have plans for 2020 to revamp our website to allow for online ordering and direct delivery. You can find us at www.seafoodoth.com. I am also working on plans for an educational membership site where we will have step-by-step videos to help people feel more comfortable in preparing seafood at home. We’ll cover topics from basics like deveining shrimp and shucking oysters to step-by-step recipes that will give people the confidence to prepare delicious seafood dishes in their own kitchen.