Braun Seafood Distributes Across LI and Beyond


Ken Homan started working at Braun Seafood Co. when he was 6 years old.

“I started putting lids on bait containers, for a penny each,” he said.

Ken’s father, Jim Homan, ran the family business at the time, when it was primarily a bait and oyster packer. The company dates back to 1928, when it was founded in Cutchogue by charter boat captain George Braun.

In the 1960s, Braun Seafood hitched its cart to Peconic Bay scallops, which were exploding in popularity.

“My dad was known as the scallop guru,” Ken says. “We took care of the production, packaging and shipping of most of the scallops in the region. My dad developed markets on the East Coast and beyond, even shipping internationally, and scallops boomed in the 60s and 70s.”

But in the early 1980s, shortly after Homan graduated from business school, a brown tide wiped out the scallop crop and the business had to reinvent itself to survive. It did this by diversifying into new seafood products and new sales channels.

“As we say in business school, ‘Diversify, diversify’,” he continues.

Braun Seafood expanded its wholesale distribution of fish and shellfish to local restaurants as the Hamptons increasingly became an upscale destination. To accommodate growth and support future expansion, the company expanded its Cutchogue facility, adding larger fresh fish and shellfish coolers and a cutting room to process the ever-increasing amount of seafood. sea ​​that crosses its doors. An 18,000 gallon live lobster storage system was also constructed.

Homan and his cousin, Wayne Phillips, took over the reins from Jim Homan in 1988, the year the company opened a seafood retail market in Cutchogue. A restaurant, now called Braun’s Kitchen, followed in the early 2000s.

Today, Braun Seafood sells seasonal fresh fish, lobster meat, scallops, crabs, mussels, clams and oysters, as well as an assortment of frozen seafood such as shrimp, tuna, scallops, swordfish, crab and lobsters at more than 600 restaurants, fishmongers, caterers and other food establishments across Long Island and beyond.

The company sources seafood from a variety of sources, from local baymen at the Fulton Fish Market in Hunt’s Point, which Braun staff travel to with a large refrigerated truck three times a week in the wee hours of the morning, to meet customers. demand for variety and volume of seafood products.

Restaurant sales make up about 70% of Braun’s business, and when restaurants were closed at the start of the pandemic, it looked like it might look like the scallop crisis again.

“I was afraid we wouldn’t make it,” says Homan. “But we kept selling to fishmongers, which were very busy, and then restaurant takeaways got busy. A lot of people left town and came to North Fork full time, so our retail business boomed, and since some of our trucks were idle, we started using them for door-to-door delivery of orders at detail.

Braun’s Kitchen remained closed until recently as the business diverted staff to retail and wholesale businesses. But the restaurant, which operates year-round, reopened in November 2021.

Braun Seafood Local Scallops and Champagne Caviar Sauce with Russian Caviar Caviar

In addition to salads, sandwiches, appetizers, and seafood platters, Braun’s Kitchen offers dishes like Seared Scallops with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms and Peconic Bay Chestnut Risotto; and seafood and tomato fregola with prawns, calamari, mussels, white fish, fregola pasta and tomato broth. Produce from East End farms, including Homan’s own Peconic Bay chestnuts, feature prominently on the menu.

Braun has about 30 full-time employees and hires about 20 seasonal workers each summer. In addition to Homan, who is president and frozen seafood buyer, and Phillips, who is responsible for the South Fork territory of Water Mill in East Hampton, the management team includes longtime employee Keith Reda, who is director general and buyer of fresh seafood.

Homan’s son, James Cody Homan, who goes by the name Cody, also joined the family business, managing the Western South Fork territory from Hampton Bays to Center Moriches. Cody went to college and law school, then worked in Manhattan, but felt a strong pull from the North Fork — like his father before him.

“I always knew I would eventually come back to North Fork,” Ken says. “A lot has changed since I was little, when it was a sleepy farming and fishing community and I was the only kid in grade one.”

He continues: “Our business has grown with the community… but our goal is always the same: to provide our customers with the freshest and best fish possible.

Learn more and see what’s on offer at braunseafood.com.

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