Best Seafood Restaurant | Statewide Winner and Best of Treasure Valley
Though the gem of Boise’s seafood joints, Fresh Off the Hook, has been around since 1996, Gary Andrew bought it in 2021.
Was that crazy? Everyone told him it was.
After talking to him, I have to say they were wrong. “I’ve owned a lot of businesses, and I don’t say that to brag. Some have been successful and some have not,” Gary said as he talked with me about his restaurant. “The number one thing I’ve learned in all of them is that all businesses are people businesses. Our main objective is to make sure [guests] have a really pleasant experience—that when they sit down, they’re treated kindly and get a meal. When they leave the restaurant, they should just be feeling good. And food is only part of that.”
From Laundromats to Real Estate to Restaurants
Gary has been in the Treasure Valley his whole life. He’s passionate and animated in conversation, and right away I can see why he’s so successful—though according to him, not all his businesses have been.
He has owned a lot of them, from wholesale lumber to real estate development and laundromats.
In 2021, in an attempt to reduce stress, he sold everything and retired. He was going to slow down, he said.
I’d known him for about ten minutes, but I could tell that slowing down and not having a business wasn’t going to look good on him.
It wasn’t! His retirement lasted six weeks.
He’d heard about Fresh Off the Hook because his mother-in-law eats there all the time. So, he met with the founder of the restaurant and bought it on the spot. His friends said he was nuts. Remember this was in 2021 and the restaurant industry was suffering. But Gary had never owned a restaurant. It was going to be an adventure, a chance to learn something new.
Not a Franchise and Seriously Fresh
There’s so much to love about this restaurant, and Gary sees it. More than anything, he’s incredibly proud of and impressed with his team.
“The first time I went to the kitchen, it happened to be a busy night and I watched a cook as he worked,” he explained. “I’ve never seen multitasking like I’ve seen in a cook on a busy night. It was amazing to watch Sean. When the night was done, I told him he had a real talent.”
Gary is quick to let me know that the restaurant was already amazing when he bought it, and so he only made a few changes. His desire is to continue to emphasize the communal, familial feel of the restaurant and extend that ambiance and warmth to their guests.
And the name really says it all: their food really is fresh.
There have been a lot of transplants to the Treasure Valley from the coast. It’s always flooring to Gary and the rest of the staff when someone tells them their seafood is better than anything they ever ate in Seattle. But that happens regularly.
“Our menu has always been excellent,” he explains. “It’s a little gem.”
And Gary loves that it doesn’t have a franchise vibe, that it’s one of a kind, and that the only overlords they answer to are the health department. You really can’t beat that.
I’ve been landlocked my entire life. Have never really been into seafood, honestly. But Gary’s enthusiasm about his restaurant and the class of it all makes me ready to try out whatever their best dish is, personally.
For me it’s easy to say that with an establishment like this, I’m rooting for their continued prosperity and growth.
“My people know that success to me is not just about the bottom line. And as a result, we are seeing numbers at this restaurant that haven’t been seen since it opened in 1996.”