I met Tom and Jimmy, co-owners of Skrimp Shack Holly Springs, at Starbucks on a sunny yet mildly-breezy October morning. They instantly knew who I was, probably because I looked like a flustered mom arriving at our meeting with one minute to spare. I took a seat at the table and Jimmy asked if I wanted a coffee. I kindly explained that I needed no more coffee since I had already consumed two large cups that morning. Being locked out of the house by my toddler was the cause for the second cup. It was the Mondayest of Thursday’s, to say the least.
One thing that is missing from this part of southern Wake county is good, quality seafood. You can travel to Raleigh to eat at 42nd Street Oyster bar, or you can go into to Apex and eat at Skippers, but those options are not always convenient. Tom noticed the same issue which is how his journey to opening the Skrimp Shack started.
The Skrimp Shack is a quick-service fried and grilled seafood restaurant offering shrimp, crab, flounder, and other items. All fish sandwiches have 3/4 of a pound! They will have around sixty in-restaurant seats, as well as carry-out. The sauces and breading are all original homemade signature recipes.
Tom works for House Autry Mills. Yes, that House Autry Mills that is based in Four Oaks, NC that specializes in cornmeal, biscuit and cornbread mixes, breading mixes and coatings for chicken, seafood, pork, and basically anything else you want to put it on.
A bit of background before we go any further: Skrimp Shack was started by Mitch and Stacy Hartman in Newport News, VA. You can read about their entire journey, which grew from selling shrimp on the side-of-the-road to having almost 20 Skrimp Shacks across the east coast, here. In the beginning, Mitch had been blending their own flour by hand to make the breading that went on all the seafood.
Tom was at the Skrimp Shack in Virginia about three years ago discussing with Mitch about having House Autry Mills make their seafood breading for them in bulk. After about nine months of trial and error, they achieved the perfect blend. Having House Autry Mills make their seafood breading was not only a time saver, but it also eliminated the margin of error on the part of the employee who was responsible for making the seasoning at each individual location.
During this process, Tom grew to know the ins and outs of Skrimp Shack. With that, and knowing what southern Wake County was lacking, he realized there was an opportunity right in front of him waiting to be seized. Not only did he love that Mitch and Stacy were extremely involved with every aspect of the business to ensure top-notch quality, but they also have a huge sense of commitment to the community that is definitely filtered down to the individual owners and stores.
This brings in Jimmy. Jimmy has not only been on the ownership side of restaurants in the past but he is also both a retired New York City Police Officer and New York City Fire Fighter. He moved down to North Carolina with his wife and three kids about four years ago and just happened to move into the house across the street from Tom. Sharing a mutual friend, Tom and Jimmy grew to be fast friends. With Tom knowing what he did about Jimmy’s past endeavors, he approached Jimmy about the Skrimp Shack concept and they agreed it was something that was much needed in our area. From there, finding a location and getting the process up and running has been about two years in the making.
When it comes to the seafood, the Skrimp Shack tries to source as much of it locally as possible. However, depending on what type of seafood it is and what season we are currently in, off the coast of NC might not be the best place to find it. Based on wanting to deliver the freshest seafood possible to ensure the end product is top notch, they will find the seafood elsewhere if and when needed.
One of the interesting facts about the restaurant is that the fish is brought in and everything is cut to order. It is not a frozen piece of fish that is just thrown into the fryer, there is a lot of labor that goes into the entire process.
Their most popular product is their original Skrimp and Crabmeat Po’ Boy. It is 3/4 of a pound of fish served on a fresh toasted hoagie roll. Ten Skrimp are lined on the bottom bun which is then topped with a handful of crabmeat. Three additional Skrimp are then placed on top of the crab meat. And to top it off they put their “Po Boy Sauce” between each layer of fish. Give me one of these right now!!
At this point, the Skrimp Shack is around two to three weeks from getting their needed permits to begin construction. Once those are obtained it will be about two more months until construction is complete and they are ready to rock-and-roll. Assuming that everything stays on schedule and there are no unforeseen setbacks they are hoping to be open before the end of the year. And I don’t know about you but after the holidays I am sick and tired of eating at home, so I will be extremely happy when this opens and gives us another local place to frequent.
Tom and Jimmy hope to not only fill a void for the residents in the area by building a culture where people love to come to eat, but they also hope to build a place that their employees are excited to work. One way they hope to achieve this is being closed on Sundays and Mondays to ensure their employees get needed time off with their families. They also hope to find ways to give back to the community, whether it be by sponsorships or getting involved in local festivals and events. Both Tom and Jimmy are already involved heavily in the community in their personal lives for their own reasons and hope they can carry those over into the business.
Skrimp Shack Holly Springs will be in the Shoppes At Holly Springs, right off Hwy 55, near the Tumble Gym and Game Stop.
Fun Facts about Tom and Jimmy:
- Tom has no plans to quit his day job so he will be more in the background when it comes to the Skrimp Shack. Jimmy will be there on a more day-to-day basis, especially when they open initially.
- Because it is worth repeating, Jimmy is a retired New York City Police Officer and a retired New York City Fire Fighter. Thank you, Jimmy.
- Both of Tom’s kids hate seafood so it’s great that he is opening a restaurant completely dedicated to it; ha!
- They have committed to a minimum of three locations throughout the upcoming 540-Beltline region of Wake County, with Holly Springs being their first.
- Tom is initially from Vermont, went to UNC-G and is a Crossfitter.
Keep an eye out on their Facebook for future updates on progress and the grand opening!
You can view their current menu online but keep in mind it is subject to change.