Vol 7 No. 4 - October 18, 2006

Star Fish Co. - Fresh seafood to eat in or cook at home

Star Fish Co. is a slice of old Florida in the historic fishing village of Cortez.

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

It starts when you hear the squeaky screen door slam, a signal that you’re in another era, a place where it’s time to slow down and smell the shrimp boiling.
At the Star Fish Co. seafood market and dockside restaurant, you can have a fresh-caught seafood lunch while watching the commercial fishermen who caught it work on the dock alongside hungry herons, egrets and pelicans.
Come by boat and tie up at the dock, or sightsee by car through the historic fishing village of Cortez, which ends where it began a century ago, at the working waterfront on Sarasota Bay.
Star Fish Co., which has the distinctive address of P.O. Box 1 in Cortez, was founded as a commercial fish company in the early 1920s by Cortezian Judge Millis, who sold the business to Gaylord Garner in the 1950s. A retail market was added in the 1960s. His son, Allen Garner, took over in the late 1980s, and sold the business in 1996 to Karen Bell.
Bell added the outdoor dockside dining room, which overlooks a historic net camp building preserved just offshore on stilts, a bird nesting island, Bradenton Beach and Jewfish Key.
Charter boat operators are based at the dock, where there’s always something to see – a traditional wooden sailboat built at the Florida Maritime Museum sailing on the bay, a flock of white pelicans diving for supper or a fresh mullet catch being offloaded at A.P. Bell Fish Co. next door.
Besides mullet, which Bell says is excellent this time of year, there’s pompano, grouper, Florida oysters, local Gulf pink shrimp, blue crabs, and, beginning this week, stone crab.
Served on the dock of the bay, it’s enough to make you believe that old Florida still exists.

Star Fish Co.
12306 46th Ave. W. Cortez
(941) 794-1243
Restaurant: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.;
Sunday, Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Retail store: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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