By Nina Silberstein
Lyf Gildersleeve’s family had a retail fish market in Sandpoint, ID. His dad used to fly fish from Washington over to Idaho, thus the name, Flying Fish Company.
Gildersleeve started his own branch of the fish market in Utah 12 years ago selling at farmers markets, but moved to Portland in late 2010.
“We came here from Utah for a better place to raise our kids,” he says. “Originally, I’m from Sandpoint, so it was about coming back to the roots of where I’m from.”
He first sold his seafood out of a food truck near SE 32nd and Division St. for the first year. Then, in 2011, he set up a little shack in the corner spot of Kruger’s produce tent (now closed) at SE 23rd and Hawthorne Blvd., for five-years.
In 2016, he moved to a stand in Providore Fine Foods on NE Sandy Blvd., where he sold fish, meat and started an oyster bar. His new brick and mortar store opened at 3004 E Burnside St. in February of this year, only to be shut down due to the coronavirus.
“We are a full restaurant, oyster bar and fish market,” he explains, “and currently stocking pantry items in the dining room where there used to be seating for the restaurant.”
Off-site beer and wine are available for purchase and seasonal items coming in right now include fresh (never frozen) fish such as local, wild and Columbia River spring Chinook salmon, as well as cooked Dungeness crab, salad shrimp and Petrale sole.
“For me, sustainability is number one,” Gildersleeve says. “I actively work with fisheries policy locally and in Washington, DC to ensure our fisheries are managed effectively and that local small-scale fishermen have a fair chance to keep their quotas and direct market their catch.”
He says the seafood industry is plagued with overharvesting, slave labor and dirty chemical treatments that do not need to be used.
“It’s my goal to educate customers on where their fish is coming from and to recognize the importance these decisions make for the viability of our local coastal economy and working waterfronts,” he adds.
Pre-pandemic, the Flying Fish Company offered sushi rolling, cooking and fish filleting classes on-site. Off-site events have included oyster farm and other farm tours, fishing trips and volunteer beach clean-ups, to name a few.
Catering is in the mix, too, from weddings to special birthday parties where celebrants had their own oyster shucker or someone rolling sushi. In addition, platters are provided for off-site events.
“I’m currently building an extensive outdoor seating area for the summer,” Lyf adds. “We’ll be taking half of the parking lot and turning it into a seating area with picnic tables, umbrellas and garden beds.”
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Flying Fish Company
3004 E Burnside St.
Photo by Natalie Gildersleeve
It’s patio time at Flying Fish Restaurant and Fish Market and owner Lyf Gildersleeve has finished his new outdoor dining space with a fire pit just in time for Phase One dining Friday, June 19. Lyf has spaced his picnic tables six-feet apart and will limit the number of guests for inside dining. All food will be served in biodegradable palm leaf plates and plant based cups. Masks are required while indoors.