This is in honor of the now closed Wulf's Fish Market that was on Harvard St.
in Brookline MA
sold the business a few years ago. The new owner closed the market and opened a
wholesale business on Boston's Fish Pier.
Wulf's Fish Market: Very Fussy About Quality!
From 1988 to 1994, while I owned the Harvard Street Grill, I bought
almost all of our fish at a small retail market across the street: Wulf's Fish Market. We
were fortunate to be located so close to what many considered to be the best
fish market in the Boston area. It was a wonderful arrangement because it
allowed us to purchase absolutely fresh fish on a daily basis.
In 2010, my wife Bess and I paid a return visit to
Wulf's. At that time, Wulf's was still the only fish market in the
Boston area to cut fillets from whole fish; going to the fish pier at 4 AM
every day but Sunday, when it is closed.
Visit to Wulf's Fish Market
Alan (right) joined the family enterprise in 1968, and ran it
with the help of his cousin Richie Taylor.
Beginning in 1926, when Sam Wulf bought Berger's Fish Market and truck,
Wulf's Fish Market was in business on Harvard Street near Coolidge Corner in
Brookline, MA, not far from Boston's Fenway Park. His son Alan joined the family
enterprise in 1968, and ran it with the help of his cousin Richie, their expert buyer at
the Fish Pier, and his son Andy, a high school teacher who helped out on weekends. Although
bigger, fancier markets came along, Alan believed that a small market which
cut fish fresh daily offeed a higher quality product. "A small operation can be very
fussy about quality". His loyal customers, many of whom shopped at Wulf's
for decades, heartily agreed.
Unlike many operations, Wulf's bought only whole
fish, and Alan and his staff did all of the cutting in the shop.
Maintaining such high quality would begin when Alan arrived at the shop
by 5 am each day. Shortly after that, Richie would be at Boston's Fish Pier, perusing the
offerings from boats, trucks and air, using his twenty-plus years of experience to discern
the best buys. Wulf's bought 7 - 10,000 pounds of whole fish each week, and Richie
was at the
Pier every weekday whether or not they needed something--just so he wouldn't miss a great
was the expert buyer at the Fish Pier, he was there every
weekday whether or not they needed something--just so he didn't miss a great buy!
Unlike many operations these days, Wulf's bought only whole fish, and
Alan and his staff did all of the cutting in the shop. Alan said: "I still do
everything the way my father taught me; I'm stubborn that way, I just can't change."
However, one of the changes he noted in recent years was how many customers came
in who have no idea how to cook fish. Alan felt that one of the benefits of such a small
operation was that they could take the time to talk to customers and teach
cooking methods. "Baking is the easiest way to prepare fish. Once someone
knows how to cook fish, they want to eat it more", said Alan. As he related this, a customer inquiring about
crayfish was being helped by Andy, with Alan chiming in about storage and preparation of
In the early days of the market, the neighborhood was one of large
homes and large families. There were three or four fish markets, along with specialty
butcher and grocery shops. In recent years, large homes have been split into apartments, and
Wulf's was the lone market of its type in the area. Other changes over the years
include the increase in fish prices, and the implication of that for family
budgets. "When I started here in '68", Alan said, "Haddock filets went for
98 cents a pound. Today they're $8.98…if a family needs a couple of pounds
for a meal, that could be twenty dollars." Of course, the issues of
overfishing and the ensuing scarcity of species added to this situation: boats are only allowed to fish a set
number of days each year. Combine this with the understanding that only about 33 to 60 percent
of a fish can actually be used after cutting, and the economic implications are clear.
Although Wulf's still tried to buy primarily domestic fish, it also offered choices from
the vast array of products from around the world. Despite this, Alan said that, although
customers were always looking for new, cheaper varieties, the most popular sellers continued
to be the same over the years: salmon, cod, sole and flounder.
The most popular sellers continue to be the
same over the years: salmon, cod, sole and flounder.
If you didnt live near enough to the Boston area to drive over
to Wulf''s to shop for that night's dinner, how could you partake of their specialties? When
asked if someone in Nebraska could call and have some fresh fish shipped, Alan shook his
head and explained that there was no way to retain the freshness which he felt
essential. He reminded: "We cut just enough fish for each day--each day. That's when
fish is best." Richie was overheard questioning Alan about shipping, Alan replied, "Well, maybe."
Wulf's Fish Market was located at 407 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA ---
Now the location houses a dounut shop. Why was
Alan Wulf Smiling? Maybe it's because he is holding a Wolffish! or He's was just