Bruce McGuigan has fished local waters, both commercially and recreationally, for almost his entire life. He owned Captain Mac’s Bait & Tackle Shop in West Fenwick for 32 years, and the Lone Mullet Seafood Market next door for six years. He operated one of the first scallop boats in Ocean City, Md., has fished in the White Marlin Open and spends about three hours every morning breaking down fish.
To put it simply, Bruce McGuigan knows local seafood.
But when Hurricane Sandy flooded his property along Route 54 nearly two years ago, McGuigan decided to put that knowledge into a relatively new business venture — leading him to open the doors to Captain Mac’s Fish House last month.
“Every time somebody came into the seafood market, we got requests for fresh cooked food — sandwiches, things like that — so we decided to try it,” explained former Lone Mullet-turned-Fish House-employee Rick Eakle. “Hurricane Sandy ended up wiping out the underside of the building — in fact, we had a 3,000-pound walk-in refrigerator out on the side of the building. It was up on Route 54.”
“What we’re doing is good, fresh seafood — which is unusual in this town anymore,” McGuigan said simply. “It’s dealer’s choice. It’s whatever I’m getting local off the boats.”
After one last season for the tackle shop and seafood market, construction for the new and improved Captain Mac’s took place over the winter. Now, Captain Mac’s Fish House is a full-service restaurant, located in the same spot along Route 54, but in a brand new building with plenty of seating and some of the best water views in the area.
“We’ve got 20 tables, and not a bad view in the house,” said Eakle. “Partly because we had to build the building up higher, to make sure we weren’t flooded out from hurricanes, storms, things like that — you have a better view right down over the bay.”
Captain Mac’s now offers even more fresh seafood but also uses their seafood market as a commissary for the restaurant.
“To me, the quality of the food is exponentially greater with a locally caught fish,” said McGuigan. “I come in the morning at 6:30 [and] start cutting stuff out — mahi, swordfish, mako, wahoo, flounder, rockfish, clams, oysters, shrimp, crab meat — our stuff comes in every day from Cambridge, all fresh, all Chesapeake Bay crabs.”
“We basically get everything daily right off the boat. If you eat it today, it was swimming yesterday.” Eakle added. “The seafood market’s the commissary for the full-service restaurant, so everything that you eat here — everything comes out of the market.”
The restaurant offers a full menu, with a variety of fresh seafood dishes and fish sandwiches, but their most popular dish has to be their signature “Bangin’ Shrimp.”
“We make our own sauces — a Cajun creole sauce with a bit of bite to it,” Eakle described. “That’s one of the most popular dishes.”
To cool down after some “Bangin’ Shrimp,” or to just relax with on the deck, Captain Mac’s also offers eight different beers and two different red and white wines.
“It’s a very casual atmosphere,” said Eakle. “It’s supposed to make you feel like you’re in the [Florida] Keys. If you go out there on the deck, you see the marshes and you see the bay. It’s a really neat place. Great sunsets — and there’s lights under the deck, so at night the marsh is lit up.”
While there is a lot of the new Captain Mac’s atmosphere to take in, McGuigan certainly managed to maintain some nostalgia from the old tackle shop and seafood market.
“All the decoration you see in here came from Captain Mac’s Bait & Tackle,” Eakle said of preserving some of the Captain Mac’s history — including the store’s original sign.
“I couldn’t get rid of it. It was 32 years of my life,” McGuigan described of the importance of finding a spot for the old sign at the new restaurant.
Captain Mac’s Fish House is located at 3720 Lighthouse Road in West Fenwick. They’re open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (302) 436-2445.