Crab, You're it!
Generations later, this Eastern Shore seafood outpost does not disappoint
By Reen Waterman
Photos by Maire McArdle and Stephen Walker
Amanda Williams carrying on her family business, Hunter’s Crabs and Seafood Market in Grasonville
There is no more iconic symbol of the Eastern Shore than fresh caught local seafood. Whether you yearn for steamed crabs drenched in Old Bay seasoning, succulent broiled rockfish, heaping crab cakes, or oysters deliciously prepared in a variety of tantalizing ways… you will quickly find epicurean satisfaction!
Crabbing and fishing provide an idyllic Eastern Shore experience for children of all ages. In our teenage years, my brother and I crabbed commercially in the summers from a wooden skiff with a temperamental Evinrude outboard and sold our catch to Hunter’s Seafood.
Hunter’s Seafood was founded in 1955 by Dick Hunter when a Philadelphia restauranteur asked if he would sell him crabs for his restaurant. Hunter’s, a family-run business for generations, has deep roots within the community and a reputation for selling high quality seafood. It is hard to imagine, but when Hunter’s began, they purchased crabs from 60-80 local crabbers, paying $0.25 per bushel! Today Hunter’s buys from 5 to 6 crabbers and pays up to $100+ per bushel.
When Dick passed away in the mid-1980s, his son Jerry took over. Due to the growing demand for local seafood, he built the retail location that stands here to this day selling not only fresh crabs, but also crab cakes (with no fillers), oysters, and shrimp salad. Running a family-owned business often is “all hands-on-deck” and Amanda Williams (Dick Hunter’s great granddaughter) fondly remembers being drawn into the business at age 14.
Understanding the challenges of a seasonal business, her family encouraged her to pursue other directions, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in small business and communications. Drawn back to the family business by her love of family, community, and seafood, in 2018 Amanda launched “The Waterman’s Wife” as the next evolution for Hunter’s Seafood.
“Working around seafood makes me happy and carries such a connection to my family’s heritage. Keeping the business going is so important to me,” said Amanda with a bright smile. “We are also passionate about providing a market for local watermen’s catch.”
Amanda started selling at farmers’ markets in Chester and Chestertown in 2018. “It was a natural move for us to get the word out about our products…and people have been so fun, friendly, and engaging. There are a lot of “foodies” at the markets, with lots of questions.” Amanda expanded, “Home cooking is now a luxury. With more people working from home and taking care of children, home cooking is getting harder to manage. Because of this, we now sell more prepared seafood products than fresh seafood.”
With Amanda’s launch of The Waterman’s Wife (www.thewatermanswife.com), Shore consumers can now easily enjoy fresh “water-to-table” prepared seafood products such as oyster pot pie, seafood pot pie (packed full of scallops, backfin crabmeat, and shrimp), and seafood mac and cheese! These tempting treats can be purchased at the markets or home delivery is available (currently only to Kent and Queen Anne’s counties).
With a wry grin Amanda expanded, “Our ‘homestyle Eastern Shore comfort seafood’, is loaded with fresh locally sourced seafood and vegetables (bought from King’s Mushrooms and Lockbriar Farms in Chestertown), cream, and butter. Our oyster pot pie has a puff pastry topping and our seafood pot pie has a garlic biscuit top.”
When asked about her vision for the future, she quickly adds, “I would like to see our products in the local grocery stores. People should have access to better local seafood, but there isn’t a good representation of local prepared seafood for shoppers and this is a real niche that we could help fill.”
Looking for a fresh way to enjoy the seafood you love? Can’t find time to create a truly gourmet seafood dinner? Then visit Amanda’s booth at the next Chestertown Farmers’ Market. Enjoy some of the best local seafood you have ever eaten!
Hunter’s CrabS & seafood market
4801 Main St.
Tues-Sat: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Amanda Williams’ prepared foods