The owner/operator of Fajitas Mexican Restaurant and El Carreton Taqueria is opening a seafood restaurant and market on Atlanta Highway on Jan. 16.
Gainesville Seafood Market is also a throwback to how Angel Retana began his career in the restaurant industry more than 25 years ago. His first cooking job was at L&N Seafood in Atlanta.
Retana started El Carreton Taqueria, an Atlanta Highway taco stand, 21 years ago and Fajitas on Thompson Bridge Road, 10 years ago. He renovated Fajitas two years ago.
With those two operations going strong, Retana said, “Let’s find another challenge. I think the market’s there.”
A grand opening is set for Jan. 30 with prizes as part of the festivities.
Retana said the 1403 Atlanta Highway location is perfect for hopes he has for the 4,000-square-foot facility, which was previously unoccupied for a few years. Customers will be able to buy fish to cook at home or dine in at the restaurant.
“You can see your cooks preparing your food,” Retana said.
With bright blue and orange walls, the facility also has charcoal-colored columns the owner sees as a place for kids to be able to draw.
Once the business gets going, he plans to offer cooking classes.
He expects some of the signature menu items to be a Thumbs Up fish and chips entrée and lobster mac and cheese.
The fish and chips item is a nod to Thumbs Up, a local nonprofit whose mission “is to come alongside families in an effort to make memories that transcend time. We seek to encourage and strengthen families with school-aged children where a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer.” Retana said he plans to donate some of the restaurant’s profits to Thumbs Up.
The restaurant will have full-time employees, with the number of part-time employees depending on the pace of business. Jeanne Tinker, who will be the chef, has more than 30 years in the food industry.
Retana said one of the exciting parts of this new venture for him is taking a new step with customers in the Hispanic community along Atlanta Highway.
He said those who came with their parents as 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds to the taco stand are now bringing their friends there because of the importance it has for them. He hopes to build off that at the Gainesville Seafood Market.
Though Atlanta Highway Seafood Market is just down the road, Retana thinks both places can succeed.
“We’re not trying to compete with him. He’s done a good job,” Retana said. “We have a lot of respect for him. We’re going to do our own thing.”
He looks forward to sharing what he’s learned with his workers at the Gainesville Seafood Market, showing them that it’s possible to succeed in a “very tough business.”
He envisions children running around having fun and parents enjoying fresh seafood.
“It’s all about trying to embrace the community,” Retana said.