Q&A: Pat Donahue, Anthony’s Restaurants

Anthony’s Restaurants, a chain of 24 seafood restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest, has been entrenched in the seafood industry since it opened its first Anthony’s Home Port location in Kirkland, Wash., in 1975. To ensure that it is using fresh, local seafood in its eateries, privately-owned Anthony’s has also operated its own seafood processing company since 1985. SeafoodSource recently talked to Pat Donahue, executive chef of Anthony’s, about the chain’s 50-year-old Harbor Lights restaurant in Tacoma, Wash., which it has owned since 2000, the economy and its seafood-buying practices.

Blank: Harbor Lights celebrated its 50-year anniversary earlier this month. How are sales there and at other Anthony’s restaurants? 

Donahue: Anthony’s, and especially Harbor Lights, are doing well this year. Being a seafood waterfront restaurant, a lot of our business hinges on the sunshine and the weather … and we went through a record dry spell and heat in August.

Diners are looking for value right now. Is managing seafood prices challenging?

Anthony’s has been strategizing with keeping the price points low, and is always looking for those items we can keep low price points on. Harbor Lights has a mixture of lower and higher price points. Our Dungeness crab legs are USD 36. But, at the same time, guests can have a fresh ground sirloin burgers or fish and chips.

What seafood entrées and combinations are popular with diners right now?

What I see people look for now are the package deals, such as a soup, salad or appetizer along with entrée, as well as our surf-and-turf entrees. We are keeping those below our normal profit margins. The surf-and-turf entrées are enticing at between USD 17.95 and 18.95 on average. Our packages include “two for USD 25,” which is a choice of appetizer, salad or soup, plus entrée for USD 25, and “three for USD 30,” which is a choice of soup, salad or appetizer with an entrée and dessert. There is also a trend toward lighter eaters, who want a nice piece of fish and either vegetables, an appetizer or a salad.

What new seafood items are you menuing?

Lummi Island Wild Salmon is a phenomenal fish, and a big part of that is how the seafood is handled. It is unique because it is environmentally friendly, and it is one of the oldest fisheries. The nets [small nets between two boats] gently scoop them up, and they go right into a holding tank, live. They are pretty much out in our restaurants the next day.

We have been using a South Atlantic lobster that is excellent. It is a great value and has very tasty, sweet meat. It has fallen in very well with a lot of our stores.

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