Still Meeting Demands For QUALITY
By Vivianne Hall
Special to the Courier Newsweekly
In the late 1960s, a dollar at Pinders seafood and marketplace in Jupiter would buy customers a pound of fresh pompano. Dolphin sold for $.89 a pound, and 39 pennies would be all one would need for a pound of kingfish.
Now some 50 years later, the popular store’s prices may have risen a bit to keep pace with today’s economy, but it also prides itself as the best seafood market around when it comes to fresh fish and more.
Penders started out as M. E. Pender and sons in 1965 where fisherman sold their catches in Riviera Beach, across from Singer Island.
Jerry Pender is the grandson of the stores founder, Marvin Pender. Jerry’s dad Clint worked with Marvin for about 10 years. After that time he decided to head up his own seafood supply shop and named it Clint Pinder seafood. It was located in Jupiter close to the current sawfish Bay Park area, just south of the A1A bridge.
Over those years, a very young Jerry, along with brother Allan, learned the fish selling trade. In 1985, the family moved the business to its current location-on N. Old Dixie Highway, next to the FEC railroad tracks in Jupiter.
Changes Over The Years
The sixty-something Jerry says he’s seen quite a few changes over the years when it comes to his line of work. “Probably the biggest thing we’ve seen regarding change here is there’s more demand for fish,“ he said.
“People are more health-oriented these days. They are grilling, and there’s a lot more demand for local fish like the kind we sell here.“
Jerry’s office manager and 14-year employee Kelly Powers concurs. “Everybody is gearing towards healthier choices these days.“ She says not only does the seafood need to be fresh and plentiful, but they’re also focusing on featuring all sorts of healthy types of foods as well.
“We sell things such as quinoa and organic crackers, and a new vendor is going to be bringing us gluten-free products, too,” Powers said.
The store features close to a dozen salads, pre-made crab cakes, meatballs and other prepared foods. It sells organic produce right next to the wide array of homemade fish dip’s-across the aisle from an eclectic wine selection. Fresh bread comes out of the oven daily.
Of Soups and Chowders
A stroll around the store shows all kinds of homemade soups and chowders, which also are made fresh in the establishments industrial-sized kitchen. Ten employees make up the team that ranges from a chef with decades of restaurant experience to a master fish-cutter by the name of Tom Miller, who has managed fish markets since he was 17.
“It takes me about two minutes to clean a fish,“ Miller says matter-of-factly as he prepares a freshly-caught dolphin, readying it for an eager customer.
There is even some what of an art to the way the fish, fillets and even side dishes are displayed throughout the store. Dolphin, grouper, snapper and pompano are carefully arranged in an artistic fashion on freshly shaved ice in massive display cases.
“Along with fish caught in local waters, we get our clams from Sebastian and oysters from Apalachicola,” Jerry says, as he points to the refrigerated cases of delicacies from the sea.
Popping into Pinders
On a recent Saturday morning, Jupiter Farms customer Jessica Darden pops into Pinders. A rather forlorn Darden says, “I was here last week and it was too late. All the clams were already gone.“
Darden was in luck this morning however, as she managed to pick up a large sack for an afternoon clambake. “They are the best clams!“ Exclaims the transplanted New Yorker.
Soon after Jessica‘s purchase, cashier Toni crust says she sees many familiar faces coming into the Fish market. “We have a lot of locals and repeat customers. Even in the summertime – they keep us busy.“ For the most part, Pinders has area fishermen bringing them their catches from local waters.
“We have about 15 to 20 fisherman who keep her supplied,” Jerry notes. “We even have some guys who are out on the beach bringing in pompano for us.“ And don’t forget the crabs!
“One local crab or polls traps out and brings us live blue crabs,“ something Jerry is quick to add. Over the years, along with adapting to changing customer demands such as healthy fair, Pinders also has branched out by selling a myriad of hot sauces and seasonings.
“We even have private label spices now,” Kelly points out. “Our biggest seller is our blackening seasoning. Everybody loves our blackening seasoning.”
It’s Golden Anniversary
In a day and age when many businesses and companies are fleeting at best, Penders is already celebrating its golden anniversary. Regular patrons who come in now are receiving customer appreciation cards for a 10% discount all summer.
A special 50th anniversary celebration and customer appreciation day is slated for the public on Saturday, Aug. 1 from 3 to 5 PM.
While still in the planning stages, Pinders expects to make it a great celebration of the first 50 years-and an even better kick off for the next half century as well. The stores location is a quick drive from Jupiter Island and other nearby spots where a number of well-known public figures live.
It’s not surprising that personalities such as Tequesta resident and national football league star Joe Namath and entertainers Celine Dion and kid rock have popped in on occasion for fresh fish. Perhaps one of the more vivid recollections by Jerry is from years gone by when Jupiter Inlet resident and famed crooner, Perry Como dropped by.
50 Years of Fish Tales
“He came in, thinking he was disguising himself with sunglasses and a big hat and such,” Jerry laughs.
“Our employee was filleting a pompano for him on the spot, and Perry started to tell him how to do it properly. Our employees said to Como, “I won’t tell you how to sing, if you don’t tell me how to fillet a pompano.”
And that’s just one of 50 years worth of fish tails at Pinders seafood. Pinders is located at 1665 N. Old Dixie Highway in Jupiter. Call 561-746-36704 more information. It’s on Facebook as Pinders Seafood and its website is www.pindersseafood.com