Getting fresh seafood to a landlocked state in the middle of the country is not an easy feat. A few years ago, one might have said it was impossible.
“We couldn’t get fish in here,” Barry Furuseth said of the situation in Northwest Arkansas when he moved to Little Flock from the west coast eight years ago.
But that has changed as “XNA has become a true international airport,” and Furuseth is capitalizing on improved logistics and his connections in the seafood industry from 23 years as a wholesaler to open Fresh Fish Marketplace at 607 SE 5th St. in Bentonville.
He noted that boats can come into, say, Seattle, early in the morning, be taken off the boat, put on ice in a truck, sent to the airport and make it to Arkansas that evening.
“Those fish came out of the water this morning and tonight we will be picking it up,” he said of an order of king salmon.
The space is a retail fish market, offering an ever-changing supply of fish from Seattle, Alaska, Hawaii, Boston, Maine, Florida and Louisiana as well as both coasts of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There’s also a tank full of Arkansas catfish.
In addition to selling fish and shellfish to take home and cook, the market includes a restaurant serving up seafood classics like crab cakes, lobster bisque, Seattle and Maine style clambakes, lobsters, crawfish and whole cooked catfish fresh from the live tank.
The “daily catch” includes shrimp and a variety of fish, from ahi tuna and swordfish to red snapper and cod, served blackened, grilled or fried. Sides include fires, coleslaw, dirty rice and vegetables.
There will be daily specials based on what’s fresh, and Taco Tuesdays will offer a variety of seafood tacos for $2 each.
The menu board includes a space for sharing where the seafood came from, and Furuseth intends to get really specific, noting where it came from, the boat that caught it and how long ago it came in.
In the case of the shop’s king crab, that’s particularly important, because it comes from Sig Hansen and the Northwestern, known from the television show “The Deadliest Catch.”
The shop opened during the Bentonville Film Festival with a daily crawfish boil and a limited menu, with beer from Ozark Beer Co.
In the future the space will boast an oyster bar, microbrews on tap and eventually a full-service restaurant next door, called Blu. It will be a 4,000 square foot space and is expected to be open next spring.
Follow all the developments on Facebook.