Seattle has lost a dear and wonderful man, someone to whom all Seattle-area seafood lovers owe a debt of gratitude. Dick Yoshimura, patriarch of the iconic Mutual Fish in south Seattle, passed away Thursday at the age of 98. His passing will be mourned across the local food community. But his impact on the city—on the quality of our culinary life here—will be felt for years to come.
Mutual Fish has deep roots on Rainier Avenue South, having sold their first piece of fish there in 1965. But the business began a couple decades earlier at the corner of 14th and Yesler. Mr. Yoshimura had been working in the seafood warehouses that used to dot Seattle’s waterfront, then in 1947 purchased the old Main Fish Company, making a go in the seafood business on his own.
I met the Yoshimura family and began to learn about their legacy in this city while editor at Ballard-based Simply Seafood magazine. Anyone serious about seafood who found themselves in or near the city limits of Seattle surely has made Mutual a fixture in their shopping routine. But he did more in his lifetime to shape this city’s appreciation for outstanding seafood than many realize. Live Dungeness crab and other local shellfish are pulled from saltwater tanks that we take for granted now, but when they were first installed in the 1970s, it was novel in seafood retail. Mr. Yoshimura worked with fisheries specialists at the University of Washington to design a closed system for his store that would provide an ideal environment for the live shellfish.
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