About the Shop
Our market will offer impeccably fresh, fully traceable seafood. We source our products from small boat fishermen across the United States and around the world. We can tell you who, where and how your fish was caught, because we think it’s important to know the path your fish takes from the ocean to your plate.
The market, like our CSF, will offer fish and shellfish in their seasons, when they’re at their best. Expect Peconic Bay scallops in the fall, Florida stone crabs in the winter, soft-shell crabs in the spring, and wild Alaskan salmon in the summertime. We’ll have raw, ready to cook and fully cooked fish options to choose from.
Additionally, we’ll have prepared foods to complement what you find in our fish case, including seasonal vegetables and side dishes.
Taken together, you’ll be able to assemble a complete meal to take home, requiring as much or as little cooking you desire.
Pantry items and cookbooks will round out our market’s offerings. These will include a small, carefully curated collection of tinned and preserved fish products, condiments, pasta and grains, and house- made marinades and sauces.
We take pride in our commitment to gracious, thoughtful service. Whether you want dinner on the table in 15 minutes or are tackling paella for the first time, we can help. Customers with special needs can trust us to help them choose the fish that is best for them, with family friendly selections for pregnant women and children, those who need healthy omega-3’s the most!
So far we have completely demolished our space and put in new floors, ceilings, plumbing and electrical systems.
Your participation in our Kickstarter campaign will allow us to put the finishing touches on our space- things like tiles, paint, light fixtures, shelving and other small equipment. If we exceed our goal and raise $18,000, we’ll be able to purchase a dishwasher. This doesn't sound sexy, but trust us, it is.
How We Got Here
We founded Mermaid’s Garden to bring our Brooklyn community super fresh, sustainable fish. When we moved from Massachusetts to our home in Park Slope seven years ago we discovered all sorts of great food, but not so much great fish. We decided to put our knowledge of marine biology and fisheries together with our experience in restaurants and the service industry to fill the hole in our local food community. We called some fishermen friends on the Cape, who knew some fishermen in Montauk, who know some guys in Maine. Slowly we started to create a network of small boat fishermen along the East Coast all the way down to Florida.
While we were doing this we shared our plans with friends. It turns out they were hungry for fish, and they had friends who were hungry for fish. We had fishermen and we had hungry people. What we did not have was a physical space. We had been looking at spaces for rent, but so far nothing had panned out. When our friend Jacques offered to let us work out of his restaurant Palo Santo we jumped at the chance and launched our Community Supported Fishery- New York’s first!
Our initial six- week CSF run grew into a year round operation serving residents throughout Brooklyn. During this time, our real estate search continued. Shortly before the CSF celebrated its first birthday we found our space. Almost a year to the date of the first CSF pick- up, we signed a lease on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. We’re building our shop less then a 10 minute walk from our Park Slope apartment, smack in the middle of the neighborhood community we love to serve and are proud to call our home.
The Team- Mark Usewicz and Bianca Piccillo
We’re a husband and wife team. Together we combine elite educations in science and the culinary arts with over 30 years shared experience in the restaurant business. Mermaid’s Garden is our shared labor of love.
Mark’s culinary education began at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. He followed culinary school with a stage at the renowned Michelin three-starred Restaurant Lucas Carton, where he had the extraordinary privilege to train under world class Chef Alain Senderens, one of the founding fathers of Nouvelle Cuisine. Mark spent 10 years cooking in Boston, starting out at Casablanca, then helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Ana Sortun. When he took the reins of his own kitchen at The Independent, Mat Schafer of the Boston Herald called him a “rising star.” After arriving in New York, Mark cooked at Lunetta, Park Slope’s historic Montauk Club, and Palo Santo.
Bianca started studying fish when she was 16 years old. She has worked in laboratories at the University of Maryland and Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, overseen by her mentors, Dr. Eugenie Clark and Dr. Edward O. Wilson. Out of the lab, she has conducted marine biological field research around the world, including dives in Belize, the Red Sea, Papua New Guinea and the Sea of Cortez. After deciding against a career in academia, Bianca entered the restaurant industry. She spent over 15 years honing her skills at several beloved restaurants, including Oleana, al di lá, and Prune.
As eaters, many things determine what we eat. We want food that is delicious. We want food that is safe—for our bodies and for the environment. As a water-based planet, the health of the Earth is linked to the health of our waterways. At Mermaid’s Garden we believe that the seafood industry, conservation interests and governmental agencies must work together to protect aquatic biodiversity, safeguard our food supply and support fishing communities around the world. We believe that the choices we make at the checkout can positively impact the world we live in, and that businesses can and should be stewards to preserve the planet’s resources. We are committed to promoting the enduring viability of our waterways through sustainable fisheries, responsible aquaculture systems and mindful business practices.
Risks and challenges
While we continue to build out our space, there is always a risk of delays. Our permitting has gone through, but utility work order, inspection and licensing delays are still real possibilities. We have tried to schedule all of our appointments with plenty of lead time to avoid this as best as we can.
Once the shop is up and running we will always be addressing the issues that working with wild caught products inherently present- weather issues, shellfish closures and seasonal availability among them. Keeping this in mind, we source products from a wide variety of fishermen to keep lots of options available when sourcing issues arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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