Let’s face it, in a perfect world, we could all be eating delicious Atlantic Seafood Market seafood all the time. Alas, even with our new ordering system we can’t get seafood to you while you’re driving around the country on the scenic highways and byways of the USA, so we’ll do the next best thing and share with you some information with you on five of the best seafood fast food chains in America. These restaurants will vary in their presence from region to region around the country, so pay close attention to see if any of them will be on the route to your destination.
H Salt Esquire
This stately-named seafood chain is based in Monterey, California and was founded by Haddon Salt in 1965. Mr. Salt was a restaurateur who operated a fish and chips restaurant in Skigners, a small town in the northern portion of England. American tourists who passed through the town and stopped at his restaurant would always comment on how great his fish and chips were, particularly when it came to their fresh and non-greasy nature. Eventually, the praise got to be enough to convince Salt and his family to move to the United States, where they opened the first store of their chain in 1965.
When the chain was first started, it went by the name of Salt’s Fish and Chips. Sales were good, but Salt wanted more exposure for his business and felt that the name could use a little bit of help. He went to an advertising agency and was encouraged to play up the quintessentially English nature of his food by giving it an equally English and dignified sounding name. The result was the moniker of H Salt Esquire, which is still in use today.
Today, the restaurant is a Southern California institutions with many locations scattered throughout the region, as well as one in the state capital of Sacramento. Two seasonal locations are operated in the Toronto area. This is a chain that is known for its generous portions and some rather unique items. For instance, you can get a fried zucchini platter as your main course. Not too many fast food restaurants offer that. Along with the fried zucchini you’ll find many dishes with English-inspired names such as the Big Ben platter, Piccadilly Plate, and the London Special.
The very first Arthur Treacher’s location opened in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. Interestingly enough, in that same year the first Wendy’s location opened in nearby Dublin, Ohio. Currently, Arthur Treacher’s has its headquarters based in Jacksonville, Florida. Many of its locations are co-branded with Nathan’s Famous and Miami Subs restaurants, though some free standing units still remain. While not quite as big of a chain as it once was, Arthur Treacher’s still operates restaurants in five different states. These lucky states include New York, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Up until the early 1980s, Arthur Treacher’s had a location right here in Old Saybrook, in the building that is now occupied by Lens Crafters.
Arthur Treacher’s name was derived from the expatriate English actor of the same name, who was perhaps most known for his role as the butler in several Shirley Temple films. This was another chain that wanted to accentuate the English factor, ultimately leading the restaurant to be dubbed in honor of the aforementioned actor. During the early 1970s, Arthur Treacher would appear in the chain’s commercials, though to this day it is unknown (to the general public anyway) as to whether or not Arthur Treacher actually owned Arthur Treacher’s.
Up until 1979, Arthur Treacher’s made its fish and chips with Icelandic Cod, but had to make the switch to Pollock when the costs became prohibitively high. As mentioned before, Arthur Treacher’s is not quite the bustling seafood empire that it once was, but it is still alive and well. It is now in the hands of parent company TruFood Systems, which also oversees restaurant chains such as Wall Street Deli and Ritter’s Frozen Custard.
Long John Silver’s
As one would likely guess, Long John Silver’s gets its name from the pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. As is the case with Arthur Treacher’s, this is another fast food seafood chain that got its start in 1969. Rather than taking root in Ohio, Long John Silver’s was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Though it was once a part of YUM! Brands, the same company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC, Long John Silver’s is now owned by a group of private investors and franchisees.
Many older (and some current) buildings that house Long John Silver’s locations are square shaped and built in a style reminiscent of Cape Cod architecture and include a decidedly nautical theme throughout their interiors. This is a chain that is still on the rise, with 1200 locations currently operating throughout nearly every region of the USA.
One of this chain’s defining characteristics is its full and diverse menu. A wide variety of different seafood platters are offered along with a multitude of side dish options. One of their flagship side dishes is their hushpuppies. These are a Southern favorite and consist of balls of cornmeal dough that are seasoned and deep-fried. If you’ve never tried these before, now would be a great time. Actually, finish reading the article first and then treat yourself to some of these tasty little treats.
Ivar’s is a seafood fast food chain that consists of just 23 (though highly popular) locations within Washington state. It has bragging rights as being the oldest seafood fast food chain in the United States, with the first location opening in 76 years ago in 1938. The original owner of the chain was Ivar Haglund, a folk singer who is famous in the Seattle area.
The very first Ivar’s was built as an add-on to an already existing Seattle aquarium. At first, Ivar’s was a failed experiment, but that did not deter Haglund from trying again. In 1946, he re-launched the restaurant and when all is said and done, his second attempt was a smashing success. To put it in perspective, consider this – the aquarium that once housed this unit as a side attraction is no longer in existence, yet the very same restaurant still remains.
All Ivar’s locations strive to maintain a nautical feel that is true to the style and spirit of the Puget Sound area. In the 1960s, this led Ivar’s to be involved in a rather unique prank. It was stated that they had placed billboards underwater along the bottom of the Puget Sound. This caused many curious divers and submarine operators to scour the Sound’s floor in vain. It was not revealed that this was a hoax until the year 2009.
Ivar’s menu offerings vary based on which location you visit. There are three full-service restaurant locations (Ivar’s Acres of Clams, Ivar’s Salmon House and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing) while the other 20 locations follow a fast-food seafood bar format. All locations feature fresh and delicious seafood just reeled in from the Northwesterly regions of the Pacific Ocean. Traveling by plane instead of by car? You’re in luck – Ivar’s even has a location in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Rounding out the trio of seafood chains started in 1969 is Captain D’s. This fishy favorite has its headquarters in Nashville and its first location was opened in nearby Donelson, Tennessee. Captain D’s is a bit of a unique fast food chain in that it blurs the line between fast food and a conventional sit-down restaurant. Many meals are served in the form of value menu combination platters, but they also offer several entrees that are freshly prepared for each individual order.
Rather than employing a waitstaff, Captain D’s hands customers a light-studded plastic disc upon placing their order. After picking out a table and waiting for an order to be completed, each customer’s disc will eventually light up and buzz, informing them that their food is ready to be picked up at the service counter.
Captain D’s takes its name from Ray Danner, who was one of the co-founders of the chain. Along with Long John Silver’s, Captain D’s makes hushpuppies. However, they also make several dishes that are more or less unique among seafood fast food chains, such as grilled chicken, grilled fish, beef kabobs and shrimp kabobs. All of this is in addition to their broad selection of deep-fried seafood fare. Captain D’s has locations in 25 different states, most of which are concentrated in the South and Midwest.
Now that you’ve read this article, you’re armed with several delicious dining options in which to partake in while traveling. If you’re getting sick of burgers, tacos, and subs, take a dive into the deep end of fast food with these tempting seafood eateries.