Shrimp's Rise to Prominence
Shrimp reached a landmark in 2001 when it overtook canned tuna as America's No. 1 seafood, in terms of per capita consumption. But the emergence of Shrimp Market, an Aventura, Fla.-based quick-service concept specializing in shrimp, is an indication that the crustacean now classifies as mainstream American fare, on par with hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza.
Shrimp Market opened its first restaurant at Aventura Mall a year ago. It debuted its second restaurant at Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Friday and plans to roll out 13 more units at mall food courts in South Florida and in the Northeast over the next year. The concept's menu consists predominantly of shrimp --Cadillac Shrimp Cocktail, Three Alarm Buffalo Shrimp, New England Shrimp Roll, Cajun Shrimp Jambalaya, Shrimp Carbonara. In fact, Linguini with Shrimp & Clams in Red Sauce is the menu's only item featuring another species aside from shrimp.
"Shrimp was always a treat. You could only eat it on special occasions," Shrimp Market President Vanessa Abramowitz told the Miami Herald. "We want shrimp to be accessible to everyone."
The concept's entrees average about $7. Shrimp Market is able to control shrimp prices because it's a subsidiary of Cartagena Shrimp Co., a vertically integrated Columbian company that raises, processes and wholesales frozen shrimp. In general, farmed shrimp prices have been relatively stable over the past few years at a time when beef, chicken and most seafood costs are rising.
There isn't a casual restaurant chain in the United States that doesn't menu shrimp. But Shrimp Market may be the country's first chain, quick-service or casual, with a menu dominated by shrimp. If it's successful, other shrimp concepts will surely follow, and shrimp will solidify its position among American's favorite fare.