Consumer Trends

Former Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz tries e-commerce

The son of the chain's founder has launched a direct-to-consumer online seafood market called Roger’s Fish Co.
Roger Berkowitz / Photograph courtesy of Roger's Fish Co.

Former Legal Sea Foods CEO and owner Roger Berkowitz is dropping a line into the direct-to-consumer market.

Two years after selling the restaurant concept his father George had turned into a Boston institution, Berkowitz is launching an e-commerce seafood store called Roger’s Fish Co. The online site features raw, frozen seafoods that customers cook at home, as well as heat-and-eat selections.

The fish is preserved through a proprietary freezing process called Nitro-Freeze. The new company says the technique uses nitrogen to provide a fresher-tasting product than proteins frozen via conventional commercial methods.

The seafood is shipped directly to the homes of consumers, along with recipes and what Roger’s terms “fish tales” and anecdotes from Berkowitz’s days at Legal.

Selections include clam chowder, lobster mac ‘n cheese and seafood pizzas.

The items are processed and shipped from a facility in New Hampshire.

Berkowitz grew up in the seafood business. His family had run a seafood processing business in Boston. George Berkowitz turned nearby vacant space into a seafood restaurant where fish fresh off the boat could be served in simple preparations at a bargain price.

It was called Legal Sea Foods because the Berkowitz’s retail place next door featured Legal-brand stamps that customers could collect in pocket-sized books and swap for merchandise—an early form of loyalty marketing.

The early design of Legal Sea Foods was kept bare bones. Instead of using light fixtures, the restaurant left lightbulbs dangling from the ceiling on electrical cords. A brown paper bag was fitted over the bulbs to diffuse the light without a shade.

The tables were park-style benches, and customers paid cash—before their meal was served.

The freshness of the seafood and the quirky ambience made Legal Sea Foods a hit.  

After Roger Berkowitz took over the chain from his father, he pushed the chain up-market. Legal Sea Foods also branched into other concepts, including a seafood place with a Caribbean theme.

The younger Berkowitz sold the Boston-based chain and its seafood processing facility to PPX Hospitality, the parent of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse chain, in late 2020.  The terms were not disclosed.

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