Skip navigation
Breakout Brands

Seamore’s: Casual restaurant chain that guests can feel good about

Seafood from sustainable fisheries and responsible aquaculture are at the center of the plate.

Seamore’s is a casual-dining chain founded in New York City with the mission of serving sustainably caught and farmed seafood at reasonable prices.

The first location opened in June of 2015, headed up by Michael Chernow, who also co-founded The Meatball Shop. Chernow grew up in the city and spent Sundays fishing on Long Island, where the fish he caught were delicious and also completely different from the salmon, cod, seabass, and other mainstream seafood that was being served in restaurants.

He worked with supplier Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Company to help create a market for these local, sustainable, and sometimes lesser known fish. Before too long Seamore’s also started using sustainably farmed seafood, such as the Norwegian salmon and Ecuadorean shrimp that are on the menu.

Jay Wainwright, the chain’s CEO, said there are some challenges to serving lesser-known species.

“They’re usually a little bit smaller and so it takes a little bit more labor to prep the fish, but they’re delicious,” he said. “I don’t know why you can’t get sea robin on a menu in New York City [except at Seamore’s], and hopefully Seamore’s is going to be part of that evolution. Our mission is to sell seafood from stocks of fish that are stable and growing, and do it in a way that is fun and reasonably priced.”

Seamore’s has grown to seven locations — six in New York City (five in Manhattan and one in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo), and one in Arlington, Va. This June an eighth restaurant is slated to open in Darien, Conn., where it will be the flagship of a new development called Darien Commons.

“Our brand has really evolved into a neighborhood seafood place,” Wainwright said. “It’s the go-to spot for delicious cocktails and fish tacos and lobster rolls … that you can be really comfortable where the fish came from.”

At the center of the menu is the Reel Deal, which is a simply seared piece of fish with choice of sauce and rotating vegetable sides.

The sauces and sides are serious culinary creations. At the moment the sauces are charred scallion, red curry, chimichurri, and lemon grass aji. The vegetables change seasonally and in late winter included sautéed Swiss chard with sofrito, rutabaga parsnip mash with chia-nut crumble, and quinoa and black rice with mushrooms and grapes.

The fish changes all the time and is based on what was recently caught locally, Wainwright said.

“If you came into Seamore’s yesterday, you might have had this delicious tilefish caught off of Montauk, [N.Y.,] but today you might find hake or tautog or black bass.”

What exactly is available each day is posted on each restaurant’s “Daily Landing” board, a prominent design feature of each restaurant.

The average per-person check is around $45 at dinner and $30 at lunch, with total food and labor costs of around 60%.

“We have a great beverage program with terrific cocktails and beer and wine, and they help the economic model, for sure,” Wainwright said.

He said he was relieved to see that D.C.-area customers were as receptive to the concept as New Yorkers were, even though Seamore’s doesn’t sell crab cakes, which are a staple on most Chesapeake Bay-area restaurants.

Wainwright said he hopes that with the Darien location he can prove that the concept can also perform well in the suburbs.

All of the restaurants are company-owned, with no plans of that to change at the moment. Expansion plans include new locations in the D.C. area and New York City’s suburbs.

“But we’re committed to not signing a lease until we get Darien open,” Wainwright said.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.