After more than 40 years of catching his own fish out of Steveston, Frank Keitsch was getting more than a little perturbed that none of it was being sold in the village’s restaurants.
So, in the spirit of “if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself,” Keitsch decided to open up his own high-end seafood truck, selling his own fish – slap bang in the middle of the aforementioned eateries.
And on Tuesday, the 55-year-old veteran lifted the hatch on Fisherman Frank’s in the Steveston Harbour Authority (SHA) parking lot, just a few yards from the likes of Pajo’s, Shady Island and the Blue Canoe restaurants.
However, Keitsch told the Richmond News on Thursday that it was far from plain sailing, after Richmond City Council put the brakes on food trucks opening up in the village earlier this spring.
“We opened up on Tuesday, but it has been in the works since September,” said Keitsch, who owns and operates a 39-foot fishing boat called “The Comeback,” which catches salmon, spot prawns and tuna.
“The parking lot we’re in is federal land, operated by fisherman and we have the right to (open up here).
“It has been a long process, believe me, with all the BS with the city trying to stop food trucks on federal land, which they cannot do. They tried. But the (SHA) said nope.”
Keitsch said it has bothered him for decades that “none of the restaurants around here represent the local fishery, in terms of buying the fish from us here and serving it here.”
“I started this because I was pissed off and I want to see people eating fish harvested by local fishermen.”
Some food trucks operating in Steveston from out of town were temporarily shut down by the city earlier this year, after what was believed to be an outcry from some local restaurant owners.
Keitsch, however, isn’t overly concerned about what they think, despite the proximity of his shiny, new truck.
“I’m not worried about them. Maybe they should step up their game,” he added.
“I’ve not seen any of them coming down and buying spot prawns from us at the dock. It was disgusting.”
Keitsch said many of the items on his menu are his own catch, “flash frozen” at sea within 30 minutes of being caught, such as B.C. albacore tuna and spot prawns.
If it’s not his own catch, it’s sourced from other local or B.C. fishers, he said.
“It’s superior to what some people call fresh. It’s cleaned and into a blast freezer within half an hour of being harvested,” Keitsch explained.
“You can take this fish out a few months later and you would have a hard time figuring out what has just been caught and what has been frozen.”
As for juggling his fishing operation and the new food truck, Keitsch has hired two professional chefs to help him get the new venture off the ground.
“It’s only the third day and it’s so much work but I’m loving it,” he said.
“People are raving about us already and, as far as I can tell, no one has ever done high-end fish dishes out of a food truck around here. Nothing will be deep fried on this truck.”
For now, Fisherman Frank’s will be open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.