With 25 years of experience in the seafood industry, Gemini Fish Market owner Jim Oswalt knows what he is talking about when it comes to fish. His love for fish started at a young age. He enjoyed fishing as a child and during high school he began working in the seafood department at a grocery store. He eventually went to college to pursue a career in physical therapy, but he soon realized that his passion was somewhere else. That passion led him to open Gemini Fish Market in Issaquah about six and-a-half years ago.
"The demographic for the stuff we have is fantstic with all the foodies in the area," said Oswalt, who enjoys providing his customers with a wide array of seafood. "We've always got your staples, but day-to-day our specialties change."
That constant change is one of the main reasons Oswalt likes the seafood business - it's never the same. Due to his many years in teh industry, he has made a lot of connections and that is reflected in the variety and quality of his product.
"It's got to be pristine and beautiful, so it's got to be top-of-the line," said Oswalt, adding that the shop receives fresh deliveries seven days a week. "Everything we buy is air-freighted in as opposed to trucked or barged, so that means less time between the boat and you - 24 hours in the air vs. five days on a truck or barge makes a huge difference."
Oswalt said that 99% of the product he sells is wild and the farm-raised products are raised with natural feed.
Gemini's mission is to "offer the finest fresh, frozen, and live wild seafood from around the world," and to "focus is on sustainable seafood stocks, contributing to healthier people as well as healthier oceans."
Oswalt said about 85% of his seafood is from teh west coast - all the way from California, up the coastline, all the way to Alaska. He also sells seafood from as far away as Florida and Hawaii.
However, Gemini offers more than fresh seafood. It also offers ready-to-eat spreads and oven-ready products, which are made in house by chefs using Gemini's signature recipes. Oswalt's favorite product is the crab cakes that are made from fresh, Dungeness crab.
"They are the most popular item, and we sell out every week," he said.
Oswalt said owning his business in Issaquah and interacting with residents has been a positive experience.
"They're very appreciative that we're here," he said. "We don't get a lot of disgruntled people. They're happy they have an alternative for seafood It's fun to bring stuff to Issaquah that other places don't have."
Gemini's success has not gone unnoticed - it was voted Best Fish Market in Western Washington in the King 5 Evening Magazine poll three out of the last five years and it was runner-up to the world famous Pike Place Fish Market the other two years.
Soon Oswalt will bring his top-of-the line seafood to even more people when he starts operating a food truck this coming spring.
"The menu will be fairly simple... fish tacos, fish and chips, crab cake sandwiches, salmon burgers, chowder, and cioppino," he said. "We'll have our dips and spreads available as well as our shrimp ceviche and Ahi Poke. We've got a sushi chef working for us now and are considering doing some rolls."
Oswalt said the food truck will be parked in front of Gemini a couple days a week, and then they will take it out the surrounding communities the rest of the week to promote the market in issaquah.
To learn more about Gemini Fish Market, its products, and even find some seafood recipes and cooking tips, visit www.geminifish.com