Fresh Seafood Coming to the Neighborhood, and Perhaps a Fish Market

Little Neck ClamsCourtesy Village Fishmonger Farm-raised littleneck clams are one of the
types of seafood that will be offered through the
“community-supported fishery.”

It’s a common lament at community board meetings: the neighborhood needs a butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Inevitably someone will add, “And a fishmonger!”

If Samantha Lee’s plans come to fruition, one of those neighborhood needs will be filled. She and two partners have founded the Village Fishmonger, a seafood-pickup service modeled on community-supported agriculture — everyone calls them CSAs — that should deliver its first bounty off the boat in September.

Ms. Lee also aims to open a brick-and-mortar location in the East Village sometime early next year.

PorgiesCourtesy Village Fishmonger Porgies will also occasionally be the catch of the day.

The neighborhood “feels like it’s all restaurants and bars everywhere,” said Ms. Lee, who has lived in the area since 1998. “Gentrification is great and all, but it doesn’t matter what age you are — you still have needs, right? You should still be able to get fresh seafood around the corner.”

People who sign up for the community-supported fishery will pay a lump sum up front for a 12-week period, which goes toward buying the seafood straight from the fishermen (and funding the operation, of course). The cost depends on whether one opts for weekly or bi-weekly deliveries, as well as the amount of roughly one-pound “shares” one buys.

“We’re really striving to make it affordable, to make it comparable or less than Whole Foods,” Ms. Lee said, referring to the price of seafood at the organic grocery store. “It’s a fair price when you consider that it came off the boat that morning, and you can pick it up that evening.”

The basic fin fish package will include an assortment of in-season fish caught in the area, and should cost $10 to $13 per pound. In September, flounder, hake and sea bass are just a few of the fish that are biting (here is a more comprehensive list). A shellfish package will cost a bit less, Ms. Lee estimated.

The former N.Y.U. student is teamed up with her husband, Dennis O’Connor (the food and beverage director for Laurent Tourondel, the man behind the BLT chain of restaurants) and Sean Dixon, a lawyer with experience in commercial fishing.

The first round of pickups will be at Jimmy’s No. 43 on East Seventh Street. Ms. Lee hopes to partner with other existing CSAs to expand the operation beyond the East Village, and she’s already scouted around 30 potential permanent locations.

“There is a need in the neighborhood, but I think there’s a general need in the city,” she said. “Within 200 miles in all directions of New York there is a bounty of seafood, but I’m not sure if consumers in the city are aware of that.”