Wulf's Fish Market: Very Fussy About Quality!
From 1988 to 1994, while I owned the Harvard Street Grill, I bought
almost all of our fish at a small retail market across the street: Wulf's Fish Market. We
were fortunate to be located so close to what many consider to be the best fish market in
the Boston area. It was a wonderful arrangement because it allowed us to purchase
absolutely fresh fish on a daily basis. Recently my wife Bess and I paid a visit to
1/8/2010---Wulf's is still the only fish market
in the Boston area to cut fillets from whole fish; going to the fish pier at
4 AM every day but Sunday, when it is closed. I apologize to Alan and
Richie for not coming in in for several years now, I don't get over their
way that often.
Note* Alan sold the
market in 2010---but he and Richie continue to work
there and the quality is still the same!
I'll need to surprise them soon! Hi Allen and
Visit to Wulf's Fish Market
Alan (right) joined the family enterprise in 1968, and runs it
with the help of his cousin Richie Taylor.
Since 1926, when Sam Wulf bought Berger's Fish Market and truck,
Wulf's Fish Market has been in business on Harvard Street near Coolidge Corner in
Brookline, MA, not far from Boston's Fenway Park. His son Alan joined the family
enterprise in 1968, and runs it with the help of his cousin Richie, their expert buyer at
the Fish Pier, and his son Andy, a high school teacher who helps out on weekends. Although
bigger, fancier markets have come along, Alan believes that a small market which buys and
cuts fish fresh daily offers a higher quality product. "A small operation can be very
fussy about quality". His loyal customers, many of whom have been shopping at Wulf's
for decades, heartily agree.
Unlike many operations these days, Wulf's buys only whole
fish, and Alan and his staff do all of the cutting in the shop.
Maintaining such high quality begins when Alan arrives at the shop
by 5 am each day. Shortly after that, Richie is at Boston's Fish Pier, perusing the
offerings from boats, trucks and air, using his twenty-plus years of experience to discern
the best buys. Wulf's buys 7 - 10,000 pounds of whole fish each week, and Richie is at the
Pier every weekday whether or not they need something--just so he doesn't miss a great
Cousin Richie Taylor, the expert buyer at the Fish Pier, is at the Pier every
weekday whether or not they need something--just so he doesn't miss a great buy!
Unlike many operations these days, Wulf's buys only whole fish, and
Alan and his staff do all of the cutting in the shop. Alan says: "I still do
everything the way my father taught me; I'm stubborn that way, I just can't change."
However, one of the changes he has noted in recent years has been how many customers come
in who have no idea how to cook fish. Alan feels that one of the benefits of such a small
operation is that they can take the time to talk to customers and teach cooking methods.
"Baking is the easiest way to prepare fish. Once someone knows how to cook fish, they
want to eat it more", says Alan. As he relates this, a customer inquiring about
crayfish is being helped by Andy, with Alan chiming in about storage and preparation of
In the early days of the market, the neighborhood was one of large
homes and large families. There were three or four fish markets, along with specialty
butcher and grocery shops. Nowadays, large homes have been split into apartments, and
Wulf's is the lone market of its type in the area. Other changes over the years include
the increase in fish prices, and the implication of that for family budgets. "When I
started here in '68", Alan said, "Haddock filets went for 98 cents a pound.
Today they're $8.98
if a family needs a couple of pounds for a meal, that could be
twenty dollars." Of course, the issues of overfishing and the ensuing scarcity of
species have added to this situation. Nowadays, boats are only allowed to fish a set
number of days each year. Combined with the understanding that only about 33 to 60 percent
of a fish can actually be used after cutting, and the economic implications are clear.
Although Wulf's still tries to buy primarily domestic fish, it also offers choices from
the vast array of products from around the world. Despite this, Alan says that, although
customers are always looking for new, cheaper varieties, the most popular sellers continue
to be the same over the years: salmon, cod, sole and flounder.
The most popular sellers continue to be the
same over the years: salmon, cod, sole and flounder.
If you dont live near enough to the Boston area to drive over
to Wulf''s to shop for tonight's dinner, how can you partake of their specialties? When
asked if someone in Nebraska could call and have some fresh fish shipped, Alan shook his
head and explained that there was no way to retain the freshness which he feels is
essential. He reminds: "We cut just enough fish for each day--each day. That's when
fish is best." Recently Richie was overheard questioning Alan about shipping, Alan replied, "Well, maybe."
So if the thought of the highest quality salmon or cod filet has you
dreaming of a delicious meal, make plans to visit Wulf's if you are ever in the Boston
Wulf's Fish Market, 407 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA tel.
Alan Wulf Smiling? Maybe it's because he is holding a Wolffish! or He's just
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