Debbie's Seafood has expanded to include a cafe.
Debbie's Seafood has expanded to include a cafe. Amber Macpherson

The best fish shop in Queensland is found right here

DEBBIE'S Seafood has been recognised at the Queensland Seafood Industry Awards, taking out the award for the large business category.

The category highlights business growth, a business's contribution to the seafood industry and the continual improvement of their marketing.

At the weekend, Natalie Fitzgerald, daughter of owners Debbie and Mark Ahern, accepted the award that highlighted their business growth over the years.

At the beginning of 2017, Debbie's Seafood underwent a $1.5million expansion, which included moving into a larger location with room for a cafe.

Debbie's Seafood started as a a market venture but it has quickly grown into a successful large business.

Mrs Fitzgerald, who manages the business, believes it is unlike any seafood store in Queensland.

Based at Slade Point, they have six trucks used to distribute and sell seafood at various locations around the region.

The store is unique in that they are involved in every step of their product.

"We do every step of the process, from baiting up the boats to unloading them when they come back from sea to then cutting, selling, wholesaling as well," Mrs Fitzgerald said.

They also have a dining area, something many fish and chips shops in Mackay were lacking, she said.

Debbie's Seafood expanded to include a fish and chip cafe following the introduction of the net-free zone.

Mr Ahern told The Daily Mercury in January this year the introduction of fishing restrictions had forced the business to reduce its Mackay-caught fish stocks, but had spurred their decision to think of how they would sustain a successful future.

The restrictions meant they had to work out how to value add to the business, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

Her husband, Craig, is a chef by trade with 15 years experience, so it was a "natural transition" to cooking the product.

"We had the product and it was just essentially (a matter of) creating a kitchen and cooking it," she said.

Mrs Fitzgerald said it had always been the plan to expand into cooking at some stage, but the net-free zones really pushed that along.

The cafe has been trading for a few months, however, its official opening will be on July 12.

The Debbie's Seafood cafe has been so successful it has been invited to trade at several events around the region, including the 2017 Beach Horse Races, Mrs Fitzgerald said.



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