A publication featuring student work from the Department of English and Communications at Salve Regina University.
BY CHRISTIAN LAWBER
M ost mornings find Michael Bucolo and his small staff hard at work at Anthony’s Seafood on Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown, R.I. That address isn’t on the water, but the salty smell of the ocean still hits you as several hundred pounds of fish are delivered to the work area in the back. Knives of all shapes and sizes are sharpened and ready, and two or three of the staff spend the morning alongside Bucolo as they cut, clean, slice and weigh the day’s catch. As their knives click away, the crew works carefully, but quickly, as a whole fish is cut to perfection in minutes and then arranged over ice in display cases. This is New England after all, and when the locals are looking to buy fresh fish, Anthony’s is where they go.
Anthony’s Seafood is a family-run business that dates back to 1989 when brothers and co-owners Michael and Stephen Bucolo bought the business. Its origins, however, go back more than 50 years to 1956 when their father, Anthony—hence the name—opened a lobster company on the wharf in Newport. In Middletown since the mid ’90s, Anthony’s has a strong and loyal local following as well as a reputation that draws many tourists to their doorstep.
According to the brothers, owning and running a family business has its advantages. “There are a lot of similar ideas about running the business,” says Michael Bucolo. “We have a lot more trust knowing that it is family running the place.” The sense of trust and integrity that are the basis of the business make the hard work easier. The hours are long, and there is a lot of work involved in making sure that the business runs smoothly. In fact, both brothers work between 50 and 70 hours a week throughout the year. They say that although they are always busy during the summer, it is equally busy during the holidays and during Lent. Last year, New Year’s Eve was the busiest day of the year as people waited in a line that extended out the door to pick up their holiday platters.
Anthony’s receives its fish deliveries from three different sources. They send a truck to New Bedford, Mass., every day for pickup. They also contract with a small fleet in Newport and with the Boston Fish Pier, where most of the seafood comes from. There are also many people who work behind the counter at Anthony’s. They know many of their customers and often give advice on how to prepare the fish. Between the work that goes on in the back by the prep staff and the sales and customer service that the rest of the team provides, the crew works days that can last from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Although Anthony’s offers a huge variety of fresh fish as well as numerous prepared items, one of the most popular choices, both winter and summer, is lobster. Live lobsters can be seen in the tanks, are cooked to order right on the premises and are sold directly to the customers—smelling like a day at the beach in the middle of July! “On average, we prepare about 100 lobsters daily in the summer and a dozen, sometimes more, in the winter,” Michael Bucolo says.
One final component of Anthony’s retail business is something most people probably aren’t even aware of. In addition to what is sold in the store, Anthony’s provides the seafood served in more than two dozen restaurants on Aquidneck Island.
How can you tell? That’s simple: If it’s good and fresh, it’s probably from Anthony’s.