June 02–LEESBURG — When Margie and Ted Brozanski decided to purchase The Stokes Fish Company and Lake Trucking Company in Leesburg from the Stokes family more than five years ago, they never expected to grow as big or as quickly as they have, let alone revive a part of the area’s early 20th century history.
“We’ve been selling seafood wholesale to other wholesalers around the country since taking over the Fish Company, which has been in the area since 1931,” said Margie Brozanski. “Every day, however, people tell or ask us about a retail seafood store the Stokes family had from about 1933 to about 15 years ago.”
“People have come in with stories about how they remember going in there as children to buy fresh fish with their parents and about how nice they remember it was. We’re really excited to be bringing something like that back to Leesburg,” Margie said.
On Monday, the Brozanskis will open the doors to the Stokes Seafood Market & More, located in a 100-year-old building at 719 West Main Street, just a few doors from its original location in downtown Leesburg.
Margie said they will offer fresh seafood, from the boat to the store, including live Maine lobster, blue crab, catfish, tallapia, haddock, pike, grouper, swordfish and more.
As far as the décor, Margie said, “We kept that old feel.” It includes high tin ceilings, original brick, cypress wood accents and shelving, terrazzo floors.
She thinks people will enjoy the huge lobster tank that looks like a lobster boat.
“It’s turned out beautiful, and we think people are really going to like what they see,” she said.
But that’s not all.
Margie said just 17 percent of Americans eat seafood at home, while 73 percent don’t because they don’t know how to cook it, so she and Ted decided a cooking demo room is in order.
“We’re going to have guest chefs teaching people how to cook different kinds of seafood. We’re going to make it a true experience,” Margie said.
Margie said customers also will be able to relax with a free glass of wine or beer.
“There really isn’t anything like this in the area,” she added.
Stokes Fish, plus the Lake Trucking Company opened by the Stokes family in 1961 to deliver their own fish, will remain intact.
Margie said that both have grown beyond their expectations, going from 27 to 140 employees and from a payroll of $780,000 to more than $7.5 million in just five and a half years, from the time they took the businesses over.
The trucking company started with seven tractor trailers and now has 40 on the road.
The new market will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Theresa Nielsen, who has 22 years of experience running seafood markets, has been named manager of Stokes Seafood Market and More.
Margie said Nielsen will be on hand to not only greet people at the market every day but provide them with recipes and tips and to answer any seafood-related questions they may have.
“We are looking forward to the reopening of the seafood market and plan on making it bigger and better than ever,” Margie said.
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