Recently we sat down with Jon Alexis, owner of TJ's Seafood Market at 11661 Preston Road, to discuss the seafood business, which turns out is pretty easy -- he's passionate about his business and doesn't need much prodding when it comes to chatting about it. He recently singed a 10-year lease for a new spot at Shops at Highland Park that will specifically be a seafood market with the option to dine-in. Here's our conversation followed by a quick look at how a lobster makes it from boat to market.
How did your family get into the fish market business? I was 20 when my parents bought this place. I'm 32 now. My parents were customers from the very beginning. Every Saturday my dad came here and got shrimp from TJ's. We didn't live close, but he drove in because he knew it was fresh. TJ's was founded in 1989 and we moved here from Virginia Beach in 1989.
In 1999, when the original owners were ready to sell, my dad was looking for a business to buy and he sees an ad in a paper for a business for sell and he calls the number, then TJ's answered. And my dad said, "Oh, I must have dialed the wrong number, I was calling about a business for sale." And he had just been here like an hour prior and he thought he hit redial or something. They said, "This is the business for sale." And, they knew us as customers and knew we wouldn't mess it up.
Had your dad been in the seafood business? No. The Hayden family (original owners) stayed on and taught us a lot about the business. I worked from Day 1 in 1999. I then ran away from the family business like every kid does. Then came back and when they were ready to retire, I bought it from them. And part of the deal was that they get free fish for life. Plus, it's quality control. If my mom approves, then I know it's good.