New fishmonger shop opens in Suffolk market town

Joe and Rachel Plant at their new fishmongers The Crab and Oyster in Halesworth

Joe and Rachel Plant at their new fishmongers The Crab and Oyster in Halesworth - Credit: Contributed

There was a time when almost every town had a butcher, a baker and, OK so maybe not a candlestick maker, but at least a fishmonger. 

Sadly, a decent fish counter outside the local supermarket is a rarity today. But there are signs of light. Signals that, like the craft baking movement, fishmongering could be on the up again. 

And joining this new swell of food talent is Joe Plant, who recently opened The Crab and Oyster at 3 Market Place in Halesworth. 

Joe, originally from Essex, moved to Southwold with wife Rachel 11 years ago, and as well as raising four children, has grown a passion for and career in the fishing industry since landing in Suffolk. After years of retail work, within a week of moving he took a position at Southwold Harbour as a trainee fishmonger, dealing with the daily catch. 

Since then, Joe has worked as a skilled filleter, rattling his way through tonnes of fish every week for a Lowestoft smokehouse, alongside working at fishmongers in Cambridge and Saffron Walden. 

An array of seafood at The Crab and Oyster in Halesworth

An array of seafood at The Crab and Oyster in Halesworth - Credit: Contributed

“Opening my own shop is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never been in the position to until recently,” Joe says, explaining: “Sadly my father passed away earlier in the year, leaving me a small inheritance. That, combined with my last few months’ wages meant I was able to make the dream become reality.” 

Joe says it didn’t take long to find the shop. He almost immediately fell in love with the oldy-worldy charm of the property at Market Place in Halesworth, with its exposed beams and quirky features. 

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“And being in Halesworth was the cherry on the icing. What a lovely little town to begin our adventure!” 

Joe is keenly aware of the amount of education that needs to be done to get the public putting fish on the table on a more regular basis. 

“I believe things are changing. Exotic fish are just as popular with our younger generations now as the more common varieties are with the older generation. And more people are turning to fish as part of a healthier lifestyle. Also, more people are cooking at home. 

“Customers increasingly want to shop with independents, and for good reason too. They’ll receive a higher level of customer service, professionalism and expertise. 

“And with such a driven emphasis on sustainability, it’s vital that we understand the seasons, fishing methods and viability of the products we well. 

“Most supermarkets can’t train this – and this undoubtedly shows in the products available on their counters.  

“A good fishmonger will always have fish that is glistening fresh, and be happy to talk the customer through any queries. Whether that’s pricing (paying per kg can be daunting), or even recipes, all fish is simple to cook with a couple of tips in place, and the vast majority can be prepared, ready to go, by us.” 

Products on ice and ready to go change weekly depending the catch, but have included fresh live mussels, locally-caught brown shrimp, Lowestoft Dover soles, prime halibut loin, Shetland scallops, smoked crevettes and smoked Icelandic cod roe. 

“Everything is sourced from reputable local wholesales who we have a trusted relationship with,” adds Joe. “That ensures a consistently high quality of fish throughout the year, in line with changes in the seasons. 

“And our smoked products are made using only traditional techniques by local smokehouses, with nothing artificial used. We only sell seafood that’s tried, trusted and eaten regularly by ourselves.” 

Joes says there are big plans for the future, including introducing seafood platters, and he and Rachel have been overjoyed by the response so far to what they’re doing. 

“We’ve had a touchingly warm welcome from both the local shop owners and, most importantly, customers. We’ve even sold out on a few occasions! It’s been an amazing start and we couldn’t be more grateful.” 



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