The History of Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House
The Goodrich family now spans 9 generations in this great little city. Goodrich Seafood was started about 1910 by brothers Jeff and Clarence Goodrich and did not initially include a restaurant. These Brothers were sons of Axson Quarterman and Ann Cleopatra Goodrich and had successfully operated the business until the retirement in the mid 1950s. At this time the business continues under the supervision of Jeff’s son Broward Goodrich.
The business originally consisted of two buildings, a wholesale retail seafood house and blue crab processing facility. Both buildings were constructed on pilings over the water approximately 300 feet to the south of the present location. (The old pilings are still visible.) Both buildings were built of cypress wood because of its resistance to rot when exposed to a constant damp/wet atmosphere.
The wholesale/Retail seafood house was completely destroyed by fire in the late 30’s. The theory was that one of the fishermen had left a jug of kerosene on the floor of a wooden inboard commercial launch which was though the jug, making the perfect magnifying glass which started a fire on the launch. No one was personally injured in the fire but the boat and building were destroyed. The building was soon rebuilt.
The Wholesale/Retail Seafood house was the southernmost facility and the number of employees varied according to the fishing season. There could be as few or as many as thirty at any given time. The crab house employed 10 to 15 people, mostly women who ‘picked’ the crab meat after the crabs were steamed in a large coal/wood fired pressure steamer. Independent crabbers caught the crabs and sold them to the Goodrich brothers crab house. The crab house simply fell from its support pilings into the water one day. A witness, Bo Johnson, said it looked like it fell in Slow Motion. About 1969, the state regulations for the handling of seafood products changed drastically. Wooden floors were no longer allowed in a seafood house., Stainless steel tables and non-porous equipment were required for handling seafood, indoor plumbing, not installed in the original facility, was a must as well as an ‘insect/Rodent’ free environment.
It was near impossible to upgrade the existing facility to meet code so the decision was made to tear it down and build a new one.
Broward Goodrich’s father, Jeff Goodrich, sold the property where Goodrich Seafood is now located to Broward Goodrich and his son, Jim.
As much as a new facility was mandatory, Broward and Jim decided to combine three businesses under one roof – the wholesale/retail seafood house, a fish camp, and a restaurant. This was called ‘B.F. Goodrich & Son Seafood Co.” However, we soon discovered that the fish camp required too much time to operate, so it was phased out. In the 1960’s, NASA condemned all non-essential facilities existing on the JFK Space Center, which were formally owned by the public.
Through the competitive bid process, ‘we’ bought three of these buildings in 1968/69, dismantling each one and storing all the salvaged block, wood, doors, windows, plumbing and electrical devices to be used in the building. The new seafood house, in Jim Goodrich’s backyard! All of the concrete blocks were hand cleaned of mortar and all of the salvaged wood was cleaned of old nails, screws and bolts and stacked for re-use. One of these three buildings purchased from the beach area was previously occupied by NASA’s first Kennedy Space Center Director, Dr. Kurt Debus. (Dr. Debus came to the U.S. after WWII with Dr. Wernher Von Braun, the German Rocket Scientist.)
The permitting progress to dredge, fill and build this new seafood house consumed 1.5 years of blood, sweat and tears. There were times when we almost gave up on the idea. Then in 1970, ‘We’ received the five different permits from the Governor, State, and County that were required to build this seafood house. A local block mason, Mathew Wood was hired to pour the floor and lay the salvaged blocks. Vance Jones and Jim Goodrich installed the electric and another contractor was hired for the plumbing. The rest was built by the Goodrich’s including the trusses. It took almost a year to complete the building and it was opened in the fall of 1971.
In the mid-seventies, the original fish house and crab house were torn down and removed; board by board.
As for the new facility, Broward Goodrich supervised the daily business transactions and the nightly ‘oyster parties’ required the help of the whole family. Broward retired in 1978 and the business was leased to Cecil and Judy Goodrich until they purchased the business in early 1983. The oyster parties continued and for the first time, the restaurant was also open for breakfast and lunch.
The hurricanes of summer 2004 damaged the building to the extent that the business was closed for a brief period of time; repairs and remodeling were accomplished in the late fall and the business reopened.
In July 2005, a fire destroyed the kitchen and the residual smoke damaged the inside of the seating area. Down again, but the building was repaired and reopened about three months later.
In 2004, Cecil decided it was time to retire and sold the facility to Larry Csonka.
Larry Csonka and Audrey Bradshaw usually spend the winters here from late November until the following April. Then they retreat to Alaska to host and Co-Host a weekly outdoor Hunting and Fishing show, ‘North to Alaska’.
Denise King retired as of April 1, 2009 and the restaurant was closed for six weeks. A partnership was formed with Dan Cooper and Joe & Becky Horschel but in 2010 the restaurant took new ownership.
The Galbreath Restaurant Group, within the ownership of Karyn McNamera, has now taken on the responsibility of the restaurant and has returned it to its glory. They have updated the menu to include new favorites as well as built upon the original tastings from which the restaurant had started. The Galbreath Restaurant Group has renamed the restaurant, the Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House and is committed to serving the area with excellent seafood.