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Friday night fish fry

Why the type of perch matters
Friday night fish fry
Posted at 9:53 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 23:08:56-05

BELLEVUE — The first Friday of lent means a big day of business for some local restaurants known for their Friday night fish fry.

John Smits, owner of the Redwood Inn, said it's normally one of the busiest days of the year for the Bellevue business. That remained true Friday.

Staff said orders started coming in around 9 a.m. Friday. Requests for curbside pickup were through the roof. Smits said on average 20 to 25 perch meals went out the door every hour.

"The perch is some of the best in the county," said Jim Kubsch, Francis Creek. "The flavor is just excellent. Nobody can beat it."

People enjoyed a perch meal consisting of four butterflies, choice of potato, coleslaw and bread.

"We came out for the perch. We know that we've eaten here before and they have really good perch," said Laurie Shavlik, Two Rivers. "The flavor is good, the quantity is good, and for a good price."

Smits said the restaurant only buys American yellow perch. Some establishments have switched to European perch, which costs less as the supply of yellow perch decreases.

"The euro perch is, I'm guessing, maybe $8 a pound and we're at $14, $15 a pound for the real perch," Smits said.

It's all about the flavor at Redwood Inn, which Smits feels the European perch lacks.

"I wouldn't let it in my kitchen. It has a bitter, fishy after taste," Smits said.

The restaurant's perch draws in dozens, and the addition of lent made for one of the busiest Fridays at Redwood Inn during the pandemic.

Since March, Smits said things have been tough on business. He said his favorite part about days like Friday are the customers.

"It's good to see people are out and about again. It's refreshing, because our industry got hammered this past year," Smits said. "We've been in business for 57 years and I'm glad we've been in it that long to be able to survive it."