By Greg Ellison
(June 10, 2021) Rusty Anchor Seafood Market, which opened yesterday in Berlin, adds a fresh wrinkle to America’s Coolest Small Town with high quality carryout seafood and gourmet cuisine.
Established area restaurateurs, Barry Kruemmel and Chris Diforte launched the new venture at 8 Pitts Street.
Kruemmel has operated the Flying Fish Café and Sushi Bar in the Village of Fenwick Shoppes for the past seven years.
“I have a sushi restaurant in Fenwick Island,” he said. “We’ve won best sushi in Sussex County six of the seven years we’ve been open.”
Diforte, who operates Rusty Jimmies in the Village of Fenwick Shoppes, is partnering on the fresh concept.
“He used to own Brewmaster’s Pub in Ocean City years ago,” he said.
After shuttering Brewmaster’s Pub, Diforte, a native of Chincoteague, switched gears and became a waterman.
“He was a wholesale fisherman,” Kruemmel said.
Five years ago, Diforte opted to quit selling wholesale to other establishments and open his own joint, Rusty Jimmies.
At that time, Kruemmel doubted the neighboring eatery would thrive.
“Having been in the restaurant business my whole life, I just wasn’t sure if he could pull it off,” he said. Witnessing the eventual success of Rusty Jimmies was inspirational for Kruemmel.
“I watched him for like 5 years just churn away at it with a pure and devoted work ethic,” he said. “He proved to me he was unflinching.”
The pair became friends and gradually developed a mutual respect, which culminated with Diforte proposing a partnership last year.
“I never thought I wanted a partner in any kind of venture,” Kruemmel said.
Earlier this year Kruemmel changed his tune after envisioning a new business concept in Berlin.
“I moved to Berlin about two years ago and absolutely fell in love,” he said. “I live right on Main Street [so] I can walk to the market.”
As Kruemmel began making acquaintances and developing friendships with neighbors in Berlin, a plan began to develop.
“I knew I wanted to be a larger part of the community by owning my own business,” he said. “I flirted with the idea of doing another sushi restaurant, because I knew it would be very popular.”
Shortly thereafter, Kruemmel spied an available commercial space on Pitts Street.
“The price was right and it was right close to Main Street,” he said.
After assuming the building lease in March, Kruemmel was still uncertain what direction to head with the business plan.
“I always kind of flirted with the idea of a seafood market because of my background dealing with fresh fish and seafood,” he said.
In short order, Kruemmel drafted a business plan and impromptu menu to pitch to Diforte.
“I can bring this amazing Japanese sushi-grade fish that you can’t find at most fish markets,” he said. “You can bring all the local stuff, [like] oysters, clams, mussels, rockfish and fresh-picked crab meat.”
The approach proved appealing to Diforte.
“We decided to join forces to do the best of both worlds,” he said.
The partners are in lockstep regarding marketing concepts.
“People appreciate consistency and uncompromising quality,” he said.
In addition to offering fresh caught tastes from area waterways, the Rusty Anchor also features a selection of “take and bake” menu selections, including clams casino, jumbo lump crab dip, baseball-size crab cakes and bacon-wrapped scallops or barbecue shrimp.
“These things are individually par done … where all you have to do is just put it in the oven, bake it off, and you’re ready to go,” he said. “You have a restaurant quality meal at your house for half the price you’d pay going out.”
Sandwich selections include jumbo shrimp salad on a croissant, lobster roll or a broiled crab cake.
Also available is fresh albacore tuna salad and hot or cold soups, available by quart or pint.
“We have a creole cream of crab which is an award-winning soup,” he said. “Everybody that has it says it’s the best cream of crab they’ve ever had.”
The Rusty Anchor Seafood Market is focused on providing stellar customer service, while also offering an inviting ambiance.
“We treat every customer like they’re a VIP and take care of everyone,” he said. “Everything’s consistent, beautiful and fresh.”
Kruemmel intends to operate the business year-round.
“Berlin’s a year-round town,” he said. “Like a lot of small towns, they like to put their money back into their community.”
Kruemmel is cognizant that Berlin town officials and area consumers have discriminating palates.
“They are very picky about what they let come into town,” he said. “I want to know if I put all this time and effort into opening this little boutique seafood market, I don’t want a Sunsations being next to me.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Kruemmel said final preparations were underway for a grand opening the next day.
“All day today we’ll be in there cooking and prepping and then tomorrow we open at 11 a.m.,” he said. “We’re prepared for success and we’re prepared to be busy.”