Under a bridge at 304 S. Americana Blvd., a chain link fence wraps around a concrete skate park where kids skid down rails and huddled homeless clutch tattered brown paper bags in their weathered hands.
It's an unlikely spot for a high-end, fresh fish market.
But for the past 23 years, Reel Foods has drawn in a loyal clientele of clam fans and ahi aficionados looking to scoop up some of the valley's freshest seafood. But later this month, that will all change.
"The retail store wasn't performing super well ... so, we looked into possibly remodeling the old location ... but looking to do a remodel there was just cost prohibitive. ... So I started looking for properties in the downtown area," said Peter Blatz, business development manager at Ocean's Beauty, a distributor that owns Reel Foods.
Around the third week of August, Reel Foods will close its current spot and set up shop in a much more visible storefront at 911 Capitol Blvd. near Tablerock Brewpub and Grill. The location's large windows will provide a welcome splash of sunshine across Reel Foods' expanded selection of fresh fish, local meats and prepared foods.
"We really want to be able to become more of a one-stop shop so that it's not just you go to the fish market and get your fish and then go somewhere else to get the rest of your ingredients," said Blatz. "We're going to try to feature some of the things that would accompany fish well--sauces and salts, wild mushrooms and things of that nature."
Blatz, the former owner of Cottonwood Grille, hopes to showcase some of his culinary skills with ready-to-eat grub at the new store.
"What we can do is take our fresh fish and cook it off and make things like ceviche or different salads or roll sushi. We're putting in a steam kettle so we can make fresh soups," said Blatz. "We have a lobster tank so we'll have live fresh lobsters, and our steam kettle also doubles as a lobster cooker."
Eventually, Blatz also hopes to stock local meats from purveyors like Black Canyon Elk Ranch, Double XL Ranch and rare game from Broadleaf. Blatz also plans to butcher meats on-site to help bring down costs and provide less traditional cuts and by-products, such as "a 5-pound block of buffalo bones to make demi-glace at home."
Reel Foods is in the process of obtaining a beer and wine license so it can sell grab-and-go wine and beer. The space, which will keep the same white-and-blue color scheme, will not offer seating or dine-in options. But it will feature two curved-glass display refrigerators that cost a cool $40,000.
"One of the things about Reel Foods is a lot of the equipment is kind of tired and old, so we've really put a lot of money into new refrigeration and new appliances," said Blatz. "Everything is going to be first rate."
And as for the new location, Blatz hopes the increased traffic will help draw in families on their way to the nearby Boise Zoo or Julia Davis Park--a far cry from the attractions that border the current location.
"We have a very loyal, hearty clientele," said Blatz. "They put up with it. They visit us, so we want to make the experience just a little more pleasant and convenient for people."