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Be ready when your number is called at Joe Patti’s Seafood
By Tom Adkinson

Joe Patti’s Seafood pensacola florida
The entrance to Joe Patti’s Seafood is far from flashy, but there’s a good show inside; image by Tom Adkinson.

PENSACOLA, Florida – Frank Patti Sr. wields two tools for his job as a fishmonger – a very sharp knife and a microphone.

A microphone? Yes, because that allows his booming voice to boom a little louder as he simultaneously plays traffic cop and host to the throngs of people who flood Joe Patti’s Seafood, a Gulf Coast institution that began in 1931 and makes new converts 361 days of every year (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter). Frank is son of company founders Joe and Anna Patti.

Step through the front door at Joe Patti’s, and your eyes gaze down an icy display of beautiful fish that seems the length of a city block while your ears hear Frank as he pairs customers with an army of smiling employees, all dressed in red.

“Number 47! Number 47! You’re here? Good. Number 48! Where’s Number 48? We have what you want,” he calls out.

joe patti
Frank Patti is quick to get on the line and carve a few tuna steaks if a customer needs help; image by Tom Adkinson
joe patti
The long display of seafood at Joe Patti’s highlights Gulf seafood such as these red snappers; image by Tom Adkinson.

In a rare slow moment, Frank may chat someone up just for a change of pace.

“What’s your name?” he asks. “‘Cheryl,’ you say. And you say you’ve not been here before? Yes, it is a long way from Baltimore. Hey, everybody, say hi to Cheryl. She came all the way from Baltimore to see us.”

Frank loves to keep the patter going as customers inspect fresh Gulf seafood (red snapper, Royal Red deep-water Gulf shrimp, pompano, speckled trout, grouper and more), along with delectable selections from elsewhere, such as snow crab, New Zealand mussels and Northwest salmon. It’s a good thing to know what you want when your number is called. Indecision is a hallmark of newbies.

Today’s bustling and spacious operation had modest beginnings. Anna and Joe Patti began selling fresh fish from their front porch in 1931 and developed a reputation for being picky. They sold only the highest quality seafood, and company history says they refused more fish than they accepted from local fishermen.

Joe Patti’s fishing boat
The Captain Joe is quite a calling card for people entering the parking lot for Joe Patti’s Seafood; image by Tom Adkinson.

Joe and Anna had six children, and each of their sons was captain of his own shrimp boat. The family operation grew into a wholesale operation that served restaurants along the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama, building a reputation far beyond Pensacola.

Joe eventually decided to concentrate on retail at his waterside Pensacola store – with a shrimp boat named the Captain Joe docked immediately beside it. The operation now includes a gourmet deli, a sushi bar and a wine shop. There also are locally made products, imported foodstuffs and fresh breads.

Joe Patti’s fishing boat
Royal Reds, deep-water Gulf of Mexico shrimp, are a favorite at Joe Patti’s Seafood; image by Tom Adkinson.

Gulf Coast vacationers flock to Joe Patti’s while they are nearby so they can cook fresh fish in their beachfront condos, and many have a ritual for their last day before driving home. They bring an extra-large ice chest to Joe Patti’s and load up as much seafood as they can. Of course, Joe Patti’s will ship to you, too, if you’re not driving or don’t have room for an ice chest.

Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Joe and Anna Patti – along with more than 100 employees – keep alive the original company philosophy of selling the freshest seafood at fair prices. And Frank Patti Sr. keeps the patter going every time he grabs the microphone.

“Number 49! Number 49! We’re ready for you. Are you ready for us?”

Trip-planning resources:, and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published September 20, 2019

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