Frequently Asked Questions
Thousands of people eat at the Sanitary Restaurant & Fish Market every year and a lot of questions come up.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get.
Where did the name come from?
The proprietor of the first building stipulated that the building had to be kept very clean. To show compliance with the cleanliness requirements and to let the public know that is was a very clean place suitable for a family dinner, the founders named it the Sanitary Fish Market. As John Tunnell, long-time Manager at the Sanitary, said “Most fish markets at the time were always dirty, so Captain Tony and Captain Ted called it the Sanitary because they wanted people to know it was clean.”
Does the family still own the restaurant?
Yes. Tony Seamon, Sr. and Ted Garner, Sr. founded the business. Today, although the Seamon family is no longer involved, the Garner family still owns and runs the business.
How many people can you seat? What is the square footage of the restaurant?
The restaurant seats up to 550 people and the square footage is 14,000 square feet.
How many people do you feed in a year? How does the kitchen handle so much volume?
About 300,000 people a year eat at the Sanitary. To handle the volume, we have 7 fryers, 3 flat-top grills, 4 broilers, 4 convection ovens, 2 ranges, 3 steamers, very large walk in coolers, and a very organized kitchen.
What is the total number of people you have fed?
More than 15 million people.
How much seafood do you serve in a year?
40,000 pounds of flounder; 75,000 pounds of shrimp; 20,000 pounds of bluefish and mullet; and 10,000 pounds of scallops.
When did you start serving alcohol?
Who is the longest-running employee?
Ray Lewis – 70 years and John Tunnell – 68 years
What do you do in a hurricane?
John Tunnell recalls that during several major storms, they just opened the doors and cut a couple holes in the floor to “take the pressure off” and the the waters rise inside the restaurant. All the electrical and other major equipment is lifted off the ground several feet, too.
What are you most famous for?
Our hushpuppies are famous and are probably the one thing that has been mentioned more than anything else in the media. Today, we’re also quite well-known for our broiled fish. Our most popular dish is still the flounder and shrimp combo.
To what do you attribute your success?
Mostly hard work and dedication, but it also takes great, fresh food; dedicated, well-trained employees who give great service; and strong management.