Mike Geraty, owner of Wulf’s Fish Market, says it’s been a bittersweet year for the brand. “We are going to be closing our Brookline location after doing business for 90 years. We were founded in 1926, so 2016 is quite a run.”
But Geraty doesn’t want you to focus too much on the bitter part. “We are going to be closing that facility, but we are growing at the same time. We are opening a new wholesale facility on the Boston Fish Pier to maximize our wholesale business,” says the owner, whose wholesale clients already include nationally known restaurants like Jean-Georges, Daniel, ABC Kitchen, and the French Laundry.
Customers still have some time to visit the Brookline shop and get fresh fish, much of it prepared by head cutter Rick Taylor, who has been in the business for 40 years, getting his start back on college breaks when his uncle Sam Wulf owned the shop. According to Geraty, the crew isn’t going anywhere. “We will close May 13, so we are one month away really, which is really sad, but we’ll be bringing our guys from Brookline over to the Boston fish pier.”
Geraty attributes the closure to a change in customer shopping patterns. “On the weekends people come see us, but the weekdays are tough,” says the owner, and the challenges don’t stop when the customer walks in the door. Geraty says that larger stores can afford to make less money on their fish, not to mention that they work in much greater volume.
With Wulf’s new venture on the pier, Geraty hopes to serve more clients — like the ones who have been frequenting Wulf’s for decades — by selling flash-frozen fish to upscale grocery stores. “We are going to start with just flash-frozen fillets. To us, the best way to eat fish is just oil or butter and salt and pepper in a pan. We just feel that the quality of our fish can speak for itself.” Geraty says the new facility will be “somewhat public-friendly. We have a viewing window so you can see exactly what we are doing.”
Wulf’s has long been a stop for Passover shoppers preparing gefilte fish and more. Geraty hopes the retail products will be in markets in time for the holiday next year.
“We are growing this business in order to bring this consistency and quality to a larger market,” he says. “Don’t fight the trend of Whole Foods and Wegman’s and these nicer, one-stop shops that sell everything of high quality. Don’t fight it — let’s try and figure out a way to sell our high-end product to them.”
Wulf’s Fish Market, 407 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-277-2506; 2 Boston Fish Pier, Boston, 857-991-1557;