Capeside delivers fresh seafood

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By Laura Ann Brown Tipps/Staff Correspondent

Four years ago, Dennis Deason and his son Drew began driving down to the gulf coast to pick up fresh seafood and deliver it to various restaurants.

“We started out with one little bitty truck,” said Dennis. “Drew did the driving and I was the salesman.”

The Deasons’ grassroots business eventually grew into a wholesale operation serving many customers in multiple states. This summer, the Capeside Fish Company found a local home on Highway 77 in Rainbow City.

Located near 12th Street Baptist Church and the Devan Lowe car dealership, the Deason family has expanded Capeside into a multi-faceted enterprise, including wholesale, restaurant, retail and even a little catering.

“We primarily wanted to be distributors, but people discovered we could cook,” Dennis said with a chuckle.

Deason hired a few chefs and servers and began to offer a regular menu of seafood classics, including gumbo, po’ boy sandwiches, crab cakes, crab dip, fish tacos and boiled, steamed, or fried plates.

If none of the additional daily features tickles your fancy, you can pick out a specific fresh protein from the counter to be cooked exactly to your taste, with options ranging from shrimp to grouper to alligator sausage and everything in between, as long as it’s in season. 

“We try to put stuff out that you don’t find in most markets,” said Deason.

Capeside also sells fresh and organically grown produce from Gadsden’s Owls Hollow Farm, which the chefs use in the preparation of dishes in the restaurant.

With organic, stone-ground grits, cornmeal, and fish batter from McEwen and Sons in Wilsonville and homemade pallet furniture and décor by K’s Treasures in Glencoe, almost everything in Capeside comes from Alabama – the exception being the fresh crab and shrimp that Drew picks up from the North Carolina coast.

Dennis and Drew still make two or three trips per week to the gulf coast as their wholesale business continues to blossom.

Capeside serves a conglomeration of over 30 restaurants and retail markets in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina, including all Top o’ the River locations, Gadsden and Centre Gridirons, the Fisherman Restaurant and several country clubs. 

Deason said that his family, including his wife, Twyla, has always tried to carve out a niche for Capeside by providing fresh products that are neither old nor frozen.

“The three different businesses allow us to move our products quickly so that we can restock and always provide the freshest seafood to all of our customers,” said Dennis.

In addition to the massive wholesale operation and successful restaurant opening, Capeside’s third main facet is a retail spot for people looking to find fresh seafood and vegetables to cook in their homes.

“We are Gadsden’s neighborhood market, where you can shop locally and regionally,” said Deason. “We hope to help people understand different types of seafood, how to cook them, recipe ideas, and health benefits.”

The store also features “take and bake” items, which are designed to be popped in a home oven or on a grill with some vegetables for a quick and easy meal.

Capeside has opened a world of possibilities for local home chefs who enjoy cooking with fresh products.

“People can eat like they’re at the beach or in New Orleans,” said Deason, referring to the wide variety of classic New Orleans items that Capeside stocks, such as spices like Slap Ya Mama and proteins like Andouille sausage and Tasso ham.

Capeside has certainly brought the beach to its little corner of Highway 77, a location Dennis said has been a true blessing, not only because of the building’s kitchen and warehouse, but also because of the accommodating attitudes of city officials, the Chamber and area residents.

No matter how big their business grows, the family aspect will always be the most valuable to the Deasons.

“The trucks did get small when we were traveling a lot, but we learned a lot about each other while riding to fish houses, talking to people, finding new outlets,” said Drew. “Going on seafood adventures is always interesting.” 

Dennis agreed. “Like we always say, ‘just let us do the driving!’”

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