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From Florida to Franklin: Bubba Gandys offers fresh catch

Chuck and Chantel Gandy, owners of Bubba Gandy’s Seafood Market and Steamery, travel to their hometown of Panama City, Fla. twice a week to bring the freshest catches to their new store in Franklin.

 Pam, Tony, and son, Wade Funderburg of Franklin spend time selecting a fresh catch from Bubba Gandy's Seafood Market in Franklin. "It's hard to find fresh seafood in Middle Tennessee," Pam said
Cool Springs now has a place landlocked Middle Tennesseans might mistake for a seafood market located aside the sundrenched, salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Charles “Chuck” Gandy extends his family’s multi-generational seafood legacy from Panama City, Fla. to Franklin at Bubba Gandy Seafood Market and Steamery, 430 Cool Springs Blvd.

About 65 years ago, Gandy’s grandfather, “Buddy,” started his seafood business. He opened Buddy Gandy’s Seafood restaurant in Panama City, which is still in operation today and run by his grandfather and father “Bubba” – hence the Franklin market’s namesake.

The Cool Springs seafood market is lined with open freezers stocked with shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab, flounder, stuffed flounder, grouper, snapper, halibut, tuna, salmon and sea bass to name a few.

Gandy’s offerings vary throughout the year as seasonal catches like alligator and red fish arrive in the fall.

 “Although many people travel to the Gulf to enjoy the beaches, they repeatedly say that the seafood offered in the area is one of the main reasons that they go,” Chuck Gandy said.

Gandy and his wife and co-owner, Chantel, make two trips a week to Panama City, an eight-hour pilgrimage for fresh-caught seafood.

“I’m proud of our product and passionate about what we do,” Gandy said. “My wife and I talk seafood all the time.”

They transport it back to Franklin to provide the best, mostly organic, catches for the market. Gandy stresses the importance of freshness and quality.

 “I’ve always been into seafood. Seafood is our game, our ballpark. We are constantly trying to up the ante,” he said of his passion.

Gandy only took a break from the seafood business in his late teens and early twenties when he said that some of his dates “complained that his truck smelled like fish.” However, after trying construction for a while, he returned to his first love—the seafood business.

The Nashville area began to appeal to the Gandys when they began traveling to the region as part of their seafood wholesale business. Previously, they owned restaurants in Panama City, but sold them before entering the wholesale market.

For about a year, the couple provided fresh catches for some of the top restaurants in Alabama and Nashville including Bound’ry, Brick Tops, South Street, Giovanni’s and Franklin’s own Boathouse.

The couple developed an affinity for Franklin and saw a need for a fresh seafood market in the area.

“People began to approach us and say over and over again, ‘we could use a retail market,’” Gandy said. “We heard it enough times that we discovered a need in the market.”

About two months ago, they listened to their seafood-loving customers and opened their own storefront in what was once Bread and Company.

“We have people come in here everyday who say, ‘I’m so glad that you are here. We never get to have seafood this fresh,’” Gandy said.

Only a few weeks after opening, a steady crowd of about 20 regular customers frequented the steamery looking for their favorites, Gandy said.

“The shrimp is always a big favorite,” Gandy said, “And also the crab cakes. But people also like to try different things.
“Chefs from area restaurants and groceries come in to eat, and a couple from Maine come in to get lobster.”

The market and steamery is not a full service restaurant, but Gandy gives customers the choice to buy seafood by the pound packed in ice or to have it steamed and topped with a seasoning of choice, such as Cajun or blackened. Customers can eat in house at beach-style wooden picnic tables. The market also offers homemade cocktail, horseradish and remoulade sauces.

Sides to accompany fish include homemade potato salad, potatoes, rice (sometimes crawfish rice), broccoli, asparagus, and corn. Even desserts such as Key lime pie are available.

Also, the market opened an authentic Oyster bar last week where oyster lovers can buy and eat freshly shucked oysters on the shell around a fully stocked alcohol bar with local beer and organic wine, maybe even pretending that they feel an ocean breeze.

Gandy will soon announce the market’s grand opening party with food and prizes including a 3-day Florida vacation giveaway.
“Fresh seafood is hard to find in Middle Tennessee, but there are a lot of people who like seafood around here,” Gandy said.

“We’ll see who comes out of the seafood closet.”

Posted on: 9/11/2013


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