Getting an early start on what promises to be a different summer season, Gosman’s Seafood Market in Montauk opened to the public Friday, March 27, more than a month before its originally-scheduled May 1 start.
“We just wanted to get open so that we could get people good food,” Asa Gosman, one of the managers of the Gosman’s Dock complex, said Saturday.
The early opening was spurred by the number of New York City residents who have moved into their summer homes a couple of months earlier than usual, as the city became an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past two weeks, customers have lined up at the wholesale wing of the business, just across the hall from the retail market, to buy fish.
“There is a demand for it,” he said. “Nobody is going out to eat.”
Gosman pointed out that other retail food stores, such as farmer’s markets, are opening early across the East End.
At the same time, restaurants across New York have been affected by social-distancing mandates to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, moving to takeout only in many cases, so the company’s wholesale business has been hit hard. By opening the retail side, Gosman’s can keep employees working.
There was a steady stream of customers the first two days.
“Up to six is my comfort level,” Michelle Gosman, who was manning the cash register, said Saturday. She was greeting two customers she hadn’t seen since last summer. One of them told Gosman they are in Montauk for the foreseeable future, working from home.
When customers enter, a sign asks them to put on latex gloves, a supply of which are kept by the door. If they enter in a group, those who are not shopping are asked to wait outside for their party. Inside, social distancing is a must.
Besides the fresh fish for sale, shoppers can choose from a limited selection of some traditional Gosman’s items, like fresh lobster salad, or Holly’s smoked fish spread.
“It will probably be a different kind of season,” Asa Gosman said.
If the Montauk bar scene can’t open by Memorial Day, the magnet that draws the affluent young party crowd from the city will be gone.
“Even if everything is able to open back up by June or July, it is going to be very different kind of season,” Gosman said. “You will have the second-homeowners. It will be a different crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if next fall we see some new kids enrolled in the schools.”