In the early 2000s, Sue and Nick Randall were living in their native England and searching for a business they might be able to buy in the United States.
Though the incentive for that search was the fact that they needed to find something that fit the requirements for a Visa, what they were really looking for was a place, and a business, that they loved. The couple came across the Village Fish Market & Restaurant, in Fishermen’s Village, and knew they were home.
Originally owned by the DiNunno family since 1981, the restaurant sits right on the Peace River, in the beautiful Fishermen’s Village complex. The Randalls bought the business in 2003 and became Punta Gorda residents.
General Manager Jennifer Evans has worked for the couple for the past two years and agrees that the Village Fish Market is something pretty special.
“We are a family environment here,” she said. “Our location is beautiful, and Fishermen’s Village recently put in some new sliders, so we can bring the outside in, and on the weekends, they have music next to us in the Center Courtyard.”
After the Randalls took over ownership of the restaurant, they undertook some renovations, which included a bar expansion, enabling them to obtain a full liquor license, a kitchen enlargement, which led to many menu additions, and an update of the dining room décor.
As far as what’s most popular on the expansive menu, Evans says that the restaurant is primarily known for its New England-style cuisine.
“We do a lot of chowders and lobster dishes,” she said. “The food is so great that we have people from Massachusetts and Rhode Island come and tell us it’s just as good as what they have there. People especially love our Lobster Seafood Casserole and the Lobster Mac and Cheese.”
In addition to New England seafood favorites, though, the restaurant also serves steaks, salads, sandwiches and more. Evans said that customers love the chicken wings, especially with the sweet and spicy Bee Sauce, and the burgers, which she says are juicy and tender.
“Plus, the Seafood Creole is wonderful, and it was created by Jorge, one of our kitchen managers,” Evans said. “He also makes the Lobster Stuffed Portobello, which is delicious.”
One of the newest drink features being served at the Village Fish Market is Frosé Wine, and Evans says that they are the only restaurant in the area who have it. They offer two different drinks prepared with the Dark Horse Frosé (Rosé) wine and New Amsterdam vodka. It’s a frozen drink and can be made with either peach or strawberry fruits.
Both Evans and the Randalls say that they’re incredibly grateful for the support of the Punta Gorda community, and they realize, besides the food and atmosphere, the reason their customers keep coming back is because of the longtime staff at the restaurant, some of who have worked there for more than a decade.
“We are so thankful to have our locals come here to see us, and also to have such longevity in our management and staff,” Evans said. “I couldn’t do what I do here without my staff—they are what truly makes this restaurant what it is.”
Village Fish Market & Restaurant is located at 1200 West Retta Esplanade, in Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda. It’s open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit the website at www.village-fish-market.com or call 941-639-7959.