Local Catch prides itself on fresh seafood

Francie Johnson

Local Catch, a new restaurant in downtown Tuscaloosa, is aiming to bring the taste and quality of fine seafood restaurants to Tuscaloosa but with a casual environment and lighter price tag.

“I’ve worked at a lot of fine- dining restaurants,” Adam Friedman Yellin, the restaurant’s chef, said. “The idea behind the Local Catch was to take some of this fine food that we do and put it on tacos, put it on po’ boys, put it on things that can bring it down to more of a simple level.”

Yellin said the restaurant prides itself on its fresh, handmade food.

“At corporate places, a lot of the food is made in a big kitchen somewhere and flown in, but not for us,” Yellin said. “Everything is made here, from scratch. Every sauce, every single thing besides the bread and french fries, is made in-house.”

Local Catch, which opened its doors March 6, specializes in seafood but with a New Orleans twist. Yellin said the fish tacos are the most popular menu item, but the restaurant offers a diverse selection of foods.

Yellin and Jimmy Hasser, the general manager, opened the original Local Catch in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. about a year ago. Both University of Alabama alumni, the two friends decided to return to their roots and open a second location in Tuscaloosa.

“I went to school here,” Yellin said. “I feel like I know the area really well, and I feel like also there’s definitely a niche here for fresh seafood.”

Having “local” in the restaurant’s name is no coincidence. Yellin said Local Catch, from the artwork on the walls to the food itself, is deeply embedded within the Tuscaloosa community.

“We like to support local artists. We like to support local musicians. We employ locally, so that’s big for us,” Yellin said. “We want to support the local community, farmers markets, things like that. I go out of my way to use produce companies that are local to the area.”

Yellin said opening a new restaurant, no matter the location, is always a risk.

“The risk for us was going to a new demographic away from the beach, but we feel like by staying true to what we know, which is good food, we’ll be able to overcome the risk of opening a new place,” Yellin said.

Rooster’s Blues House, the previous tenant of Local Catch’s 2321 University Blvd. location, closed down after about a year of being open, but Yellin remains optimistic that Local Catch will thrive in Tuscaloosa.

“With a second location comes twice as much responsibility and twice as much work, so we’ve definitely put more work on our shoulders, but I’m confident that it will pay off,” he said.

Edwin McMillan, Local Catch’s kitchen manager, said one of the most difficult parts of opening a new restaurant is training the staff.

“We have very high standards,” said McMillan, who began working with Yellin and Hasser about a year and a half ago at the original Florida location. “We’re very specific on how we want things done and how we want the food prepared.”

Yellin said to be a good chef he has to evolve with the ever-changing food service industry.

“Every day I learn something new,” he said. “You have to be able to take in everything. Never stop adapting, never stop learning.”

Local Catch is located at 2321 University Blvd. in downtown Tuscaloosa, next to Glory Bound Gyros. It is open every day from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/LocalCatchTTown.

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