With 27 years of owning and operating restaurants under his belt, Angel Retana, owner of Gainesville Seafood Market and Eatery, is no stranger to the kitchen.
Now, he’s serving fresh and bold flavors with his restaurant’s popular steamy shrimp boils.
Though far from the coast, Retana has brought fresh seafood to the heart of Atlanta Highway in Gainesville since 2016. Retana said the market’s roots stem from his beginnings as a dishwasher in a seafood restaurant.
“My wife said, ‘Didn’t you start your career at a seafood restaurant?.’ I did,” Retana said, snapping his fingers, “Boom. It all came from there.”
Offering a wide variety of seafood dishes each day, Retana said the most popular among customers are the shrimp boils. Each day, 40 to 60 plates of the shrimp boil go out the doors, freshly made to order.
When Gainesville Seafood Market and Eatery first opened, the shrimp boil wasn’t so popular. Retana said it took his team and him around five years to perfect the recipe. The dish only became a fan favorite a year ago.
Retana said the key ingredient to the market’s boil is the homemade sauce prepared with each order. Customers can choose from several different flavors including Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter, spicy garlic butter and plain.
“We make our sauces ourselves,” Retana said. “The secret ingredient is gonna be in your sauce. Anybody can get a shrimp. The sauce is what makes it right.”
The sauces have even caught the attention of customers, many of whom will visit the restaurant just to buy it.
Retana said the Cajun option is the most popular flavor for the shrimp boil, which offers hints of spice and buttery notes. He starts the Cajun boil by mixing together Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper and Cajun flavoring with finely chopped garlic and his essential ingredient — melted butter.
Retana then steams a nice helping of shrimp and spicy sausages with cobs of golden corn and red potatoes. In a bowl, he adds the steamed meats and vegetables and pours in the seasoned Cajun sauce. The result — a spicy and steamy shrimp boil.
“I just love the process,” Retana said.
Gainesville Seafood Market and Eatery
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week
Price: $13.99 small shrimp boil; $19.99 large shrimp boil