S THE BUSINESS GREW, so did their own fleet. There
was a 71-foot steel trawler, and a boat to handline for red
snapper, grouper and mahi-mahi. They commissioned a
custom-made boat from Florida for swordfish.
“Glenn loved to fish,
and I loved to cook,”
Marlene says. “Seafood
was a whole new ball-game
“It was a business in progress,” Marlene says. “There were always
new things to do and learn.”
They were swimming in fish, so the next step followed naturally.
“Glenn said we need to open a seafood restaurant,” she says.
“That’s when we bought 5035 Market Street. It had been an Italian
restaurant. We opened in 1980 with white tablecloths, candles and a piano bar. When we opened it up it was a lot of fun, a lot of
The brothers didn’t have to look too far to find a willing volunteer to prepare the food.
“Glenn loved to fish, and I loved to cook,” Marlene says. “Seafood was a whole new ballgame for me. I taught myself how to
prepare it. I used to read all the gourmet magazines, I read Bon Appetite, Food & Wine. I used to watch Julie Child — oh man, she’s
my idol. Whatever I did with chicken, I could do with fish. Whatever I did with beef, I could do with a fish.”
She quickly took to it and was soon creating her own signature dishes, including what became the restaurant’s calling card.
“We were filleting the grouper one day,” she says. “The skeletons of the grouper, we would toss them to the side. There was a lot of
meat on that skeleton. I took them to the restaurant, boiled them and took the meat off. I created grouper pâté. We’d serve it with
captain’s wafers to everyone who came in, for free. People
would wait an hour, two hours at a time.”
Marlene soon added chief marketer to her many job
She signed up for a week-long cooking seminar at the
renowned Greenbriar in West Virginia to learn from a
“She did a salmon mousse stuffed scallops,” Marlene
says. “When it ended, we graduated with a white-glove
dinner, like they do for presidents at the Greenbriar. I
thought, ‘They need to have our seafood at the Green-briar.’
WBM july 2020 48
I talked to the chef, and we got his account.”
Jim Burns, host of the popular Jim Burns Show
on WECT, was a regular patron at the restaurant.
One day he asked for advice on how to prepare pink
“I told him how to fix it,” she says. “I said, ‘Mr.
Burns, you need me to come on your show and teach
the women of Wilmington how to cook seafood.’ I
did it for about six years.”
That led to a gig on national television when the
Today Show was doing a story on a famous passen-geer
ship that was calling at Wrightsville Beach.
“The Today Show called the chamber and asked
for a local celebrity chef. They mentioned me,”
Marlene says. “New York called me. They said we
want you to be the guest celebrity chef on board. I
had just finished a soft-shell crab workshop in New
Bern, so I did soft-shell crab presentation.”
That led to more appearances on the Today
Show and the Food Network.
Marlene Hieronymus’ cookbook was published in