25 years old and still the freshest in town.
Ask any tourist what they love most about our city, and they will likely tell you it’s the amazing food in the renowned restaurants. But ask Cliff Hall, co-owner of New Orleans Fish House, and he will tell you it’s the chefs in those restaurants that make him so proud to live in this city. “Our chefs are true artists, and we are just supplying the paint,” he says.
NOFH, which is celebrating its 25th year in business, has been supplying the freshest seafood from the Gulf and around the world to some of the city’s finest chefs and restaurants, including John Folse, John Besh, Tenney Flynn, Susan Spicer, The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Emeril’s and Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, plus all Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International and The Ritz-Carlton properties. NOFH aggressively purchases products daily to ensure a variety of fresh seafood options. In 2013, the company launched a meat line as well, applying those same standards of quality to supply 100 percent grass-fed beef and lamb, and grain-fed veal products. The business also has a retail side, offering local specialty items — like hors d’oeuvres, demi-glace, soups, desserts and pastas — with distribution at Winn-Dixie and Dorignac’s Food Center stores and with sales out of its warehouse facility on South Dupre Street in Mid-City.
“We’re blessed with a lot of business and a lot of demand,” Hall says. “This is what we do. Our chefs will tell you our integrity and character is unmatched.”
For the past 25 years, NOFH owners Bill Borges, Brett Borges and Cliff Hall have been dedicated to providing local restaurants with the freshest, highest quality seafood. Though meeting that goal has come with some major challenges, they continue to do so, for they understand the impact their performance has on the success of the city’s restaurants.
“We’ve had to rebuild our company three times,” says Hall, explaining how hurricanes Katrina and Rita, then Isaac and then the BP Oil Spill, have each had a major impact on the company’s fish supply and also displaced employees. “Following Katrina, we basically had to start from scratch. Billy [Borges] and I were the two fish cutters again. We had to work out living accommodations for our employees to get them back home. Our customers were struggling to rebuild, too, and they needed us to do so. We lost a lot after the oil spill, too, because it affected our fisherman, but we knew we had to bounce back because we didn’t want to feed the negative image that Gulf Coast area seafood was getting. We had to maintain the quality of our product. Our customers, the chefs, worked hard to rebuild the industry’s image, and we were proud to help them do that.”
This citywide dedication and sense of togetherness is one of the reasons that Hall is so proud to call New Orleans his home and the home of his business, and what drives him and his employees to work so hard each day.
“In New Orleans, we pull together,” Hall says. “We help each other out, no matter what, and we know that we’re better and stronger when we work together. The chefs here are committed to more than just money; they’re committed to the people. We are so proud to be working along with them to keep the industry strong.”
Hall says the company is fortunate to have so many assets here in New Orleans, including wonderful local seafood offerings like sheepshead and drum, plus access to Gulf Coast area fish from Mississippi and Texas, and imported fish from countries like Costa Rica and Ecuador. He also considers his staff to be one of NOFH’s greatest assets.
“A lot of our success has to do with the incredible quality of our employees and our sales staff, many of whom have been with us for 20 years or longer,” Hall boasts. “Our sales team is knowledgeable and reliable, with more than 100 years of combined experience. Each day, they strive to follow our company mission, which is to never stray from the pursuit of excellence and always make customer satisfaction our top priority.”
Another of the company’s assets is its ozonation machine, a filtration machine that uses an oxygenation process to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria on fish, without the use of added chemicals. Though NOFH purchases product daily, this machine helps to provide additional freshness, giving seafood a two- or three-day longer shelf life. Hall says it is investments like this that make his company a staple of quality and integrity on the Gulf Coast.
NOFH has an active social media program on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that documents fresh catches, new arrivals and the company’s ever-growing retail offerings. The company prides itself on being large enough to use its buying power to cover just about any customer request, while remaining family owned and operated to continually offer genuine, personalized service. Hall and his fellow owners stay closely involved in the daily operation of the business.
“As owners, we understand the importance of putting both our customers and our employees before ourselves,” Hall explains. “We don’t cut any corners; we are always honest with our customers; and we value building lasting relationships. We hold ourselves to the highest standards, because we know that is what our customers demand.” facebook.com/neworleansfishhouse, @NewOrleansFish