HELPING OUT: “We are happy to participate in this special Thanksgiving Turkey Drive,” says Jack Morrison (center). The owner of Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Co. is shown with long-time employees Jose Lopez (left) and Jeremy Stein. The Turkey Drive, under the sponsorship of JM Group and J.Vrola, will benefit Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and continue through November 9. Donations of $10 will be matched by the JM Group.
The fish is so fresh at Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company, you can almost smell the ocean!
Owner Jack Morrison takes pride in offering customers the freshest seafood he can find. And he has been doing this for 30 years!
Opened in 1982 at 256 Nassau Street, Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company has become a Princeton mainstay, with scores of regular customers over the years — many of whom joined the company’s 30th anniversary celebratory clambake on Saturday, September 8.
“It was a great event — a big birthday party,” says Mr. Morrison. “We were so glad so many people came to celebrate with us.”
And customers have been counting on Nassau Street Seafood to provide them with the freshest fish for their own private dinners, parties, and special events since that August beginning in 1982. It has surely become the go-to place for fresh seafood as well as prepared meals and take-out lunches and dinners.
From the earliest days, Mr. Morrison’s goal was to bring the Princeton community the freshest fish and shellfish available. “The fish here have just been harvested the day we get it,” he points out. “We’re at the New York fish market several days of the week, and we bring everything in whole and cut it. It’s fresher and preservative-free, and has no chemical treatments. We buy 95 percent of our fish directly, dealing with the boats and docks and fishermen.”
No doubt about it, Mr. Morrison knows his fish. Before opening in Princeton, he had a wholesale/retail seafood business in Philadelphia. When he moved here, he found a different clientele, and made adjustments in his selection of fish.
“The clientele in Princeton was different from that in Philadelphia. It was a more educated clientele than in Philadelphia. Their tastes were based on a greater variety of seafood. When we opened Nassau Street Seafood, we started with high standards, and they’ve gotten even higher.”
Around the World
Now, Nassau Street Seafood gets fish from around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Hawaii as well as the Jersey shore, the Great Lakes, Alaska, and Nova Scotia. By developing and nurturing relationships with local fishermen and the top seafood purveyors from around the world, Nassau Street Seafood is able to provide its customers with the highest quality of sustainable, fresh seafood.
Wild salmon continues to be very popular with customers, as does halibut from Nova Scotia and Alaska, sea scallops from Barnegat Bay, and monk fish and skate, also from Barnegat Bay. Oysters, crab, lobster, and shrimp are always in demand.
“Nassau Street Seafood customers are interested in trying new and different fish, as well as enjoying raw fish,” reports Mr. Morrison. And although most people like their fish filleted, some customers prefer to buy the whole fish.
“We have a big international community here,” he explains. “Also, generally, milder fish is popular, but some people like the ‘fishier’ fish. For example, shad is very popular here.”
The store has also developed a very strong take-out lunch business (lots of people cheerfully stand in long lines waiting for their favorites). Popular choices include fish tacos, grilled tilapia wrap, shrimp ‘po boy, grilled salmon sandwich, fish & chips, crab cake sandwich, and many others.
The variety of dinner platters to go is also popular, including grilled Atlantic salmon, fried clam strips, grilled sword fish, Maryland crab cakes, and seared sea scallops.
A few years after opening the store, Mr. Morrison added produce to the mix, and it, too, has proved highly successful. The colorful display includes peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, raspberries, blueberries, apples, and much more. It is all obtained from local vendors as often as possible.
“We get produce from Terhune Orchards, also Village Farm in Lawrenceville, the produce market in Philadelphia, and cheese from Cherry Grove Farm,” says Mr. Morrison.
In addition, he is a sponsor of the very popular Princeton Farmer’s Market, open every Thursday at the Albert Hinds Plaza at the Princeton Public Library, from May until Thanksgiving.
Always looking for ways to expand his operation and bringing new opportunities to the Princeton dining community, Mr. Morrison opened Blue Point Grill Restaurant in 1999. This was a natural outgrowth of Nassau Street Seafood, he believes. “We had also had a catering business for years, so opening the restaurant made sense. Blue Point Grill is really more of a fish house than a seafood restaurant. It is very down to earth.”
And, like all of his ventures, very successful.
In 2006, Mr. Morrison followed up with Witherspoon Grill, a very popular steak house, located at the library plaza. In addition, he became involved in the development of the real estate in the area. “First, Witherspoon Grill was a tenant in the building, and then, eventually, I became the owner. I had actually had experience as a landlord previously, having owned the Blue Point Grill building. There is a parallel between that and running a store and restaurant. It’s being in the hospitality business. In our real estate operation, we treat residents as guests.”
In addition to the “Witherspoon House” building on the plaza, Mr. Morrison now owns the retail/residential building at 25 Spring Street. Together, the two buildings have 86 residential apartments and numerous retail tenants.
Collectively, his businesses form the JM Group.
Because of his business success and his emphasis on giving back to the community, including supporting charities, such as those benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Trenton Soup Kitchen, and others, Mr. Morrison was recently named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
And, it all comes back to Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company.
“We’re still an old-fashioned neighborhood
market,” says Mr. Morrison. “We pay special attention to our customers and offer them the best service we can. Our experienced fish mongers can filet your choice of fish or shuck fresh oysters upon demand. We take pride in knowing we have been a part of many family meals and get-togethers, and it has been our pleasure to be part of such a great community.”
“Success is measured in many different ways. You realize this later. There are many intangibles. The value that I’ve been able to get out of this career and being a part of this community is so important. I have always had simple goals. I love food and hospitality. I enjoy business, retail, and people. And I still enjoy being in the fish business and spending time with fishermen.”
Mr. Morrison also takes pride in the many employees of long-standing at the store. Many have worked at Nassau Street Seafood 20 years and longer. “They have made a career here, raised their families, and sent their kids to college. That is an achievement.”
He is also not one to rest on his laurels. As he says, “I look forward to continuing to grow and expand. More things are to come! And, above all, I want to emphasize how appreciative we are to the community and our loyal customers who have supported us over the years.”
Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 to 6, Sunday 9 to 3. (609) 921-0620. Website: www.jmgroupprinceton.com.