Fresh seafood in landlocked Indiana isn’t wishful thinking, according to former commercial fisher Phil Bardales.
The Florida native founded Bardales Seafood as a wholesale supplier to central Indiana restaurants in 2022. The business opened a Broad Ripple shop earlier this month to sell specialty fish to the public as well as menu items such as chowder and tacos.
Bardales said his seafood replicates the taste of meals served near oceans because of the type of boat used in the catch.
Commercial fishing happens on three different boats, Bardales said. Day boats are at sea no longer than 24 hours, while short-trip boats are out for a few days and longline boats can be out for as long as 18 days.
Bardales Seafood relies on day boats to source a dozen different varieties each of grouper and snapper. The company also brings salmon, tuna, crab and lobster to Indianapolis.
“People can say, ‘My fish hit the dock yesterday,’ but it was out to sea for 14 days,” Bardales said. “We’ve already gone through 14 days of day boat fish before your fish arrived at the dock.”
The public can visit the Broad Ripple market, 882 E. Coil St., next door to Fire by the Monon restaurant, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
Bardales initially processed fish in the 800-square-foot building when he launched his wholesale operation in March 2022. His first client was Tinker Street restaurant, and Bardales Seafood subsequently added eateries such as The Loft Restaurant at Traders Point Creamery, Noah Grant’s Grill House & Oyster Bar in Zionsville and Monterey Coastal Cuisine in Carmel as customers.
In July, Bardales Seafood expanded to a 7,000-square-foot processing facility in the Riverside neighborhood near Stadium Lofts at the former site of Bush Stadium.
“Every fish we get is a whole fish that gets broken down by hand, to order,” he said. “We take our orders up to midnight and our processors get in there a couple of hours after that.”
The Broad Ripple building is owned by Todd Reisenbigler, who became Bardales’ business partner this year.
“Our motto is, ‘Know what you’re eating,’ ” Reisenbigler said.
Bardales Seafood strives to inform restaurant owners and the general public about the quality of fish and types of fish, Reisenbigler said. In terms of wholesale clients, a restaurant needs to know it has a reliable supplier.
“You have to prove to them that your business can deliver the product on a consistent basis,” Reisenbigler said.
Bardales said his seafood arrives from Florida every other day.
“I’ve sold to a lot of the people who are now selling me fish,” said the former boat captain who moved to Indiana because his girlfriend is an Evansville native. “Now that I’m on this side of the industry, they’re excited about it and it’s working out.”