For two decades, Katie Guidon and husband, Buddy, have provided fresh Gulf seafood to locals, tourists, restaurants, and grocery stores out of a small market on Galveston’s back bay. The veterans of the hospitality industry—Katie worked as a hotel’s beverage manager; Buddy owned a bar—began by selling daily catches to the market’s previous owners before purchasing it themselves in 1998. Now with several vessels dubbed the Mosquito Fleet, Katie oversees daily operations for the market as well as their first restaurant, Katie’s Seafood House.
How did you decide to get into the restaurant business?
The idea of getting into the [industry] has always been a passing thought, but when a building next to our market became available, things started falling into place. We feel having a restaurant and seafood market so close will help us supply the very freshest product—boat to restaurant. None of us felt like we knew enough about the restaurant business, so we reached out to a local chef, Mary Bass. We feel having a restaurant and seafood market so close will help us supply the freshest product–boat to restaurant.
You and Buddy also champion sustainable seafood efforts. What’s your involvement?
Buddy helped form Gulf Wild, a nonprofit geared toward the support of Gulf fishermen with respect to the ecosystem. Our fish are tagged when they are unloaded, allowing the customer to search electronically for their catch’s tag. They see details in real time of who caught it and when the fish was landed. We also helped develop Share the Gulf, an organization of chefs, restaurant owners, commercial fishermen, fish vendors, and people who support sustainable seafood.
Much like the island, you’ve faced your share of natural disasters (namely hurricanes). How do you prepare—and then bounce back?
We’ve learned to act accordingly with the knowledge that storms can change direction and strength very quickly. My husband and his captains move the fishing boats while we pack as much of our products as possible. Then we get back up and running as soon as we can. Keeping our employees working is important to us—they have families too. So we look for opportunities to help out in the community while keeping them on the payroll. As for us, we have friends in the seafood business in other states and we all work together when storms or disasters happen. You learn to adapt.
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