About Us - The Santa Monica Seafood Story
Santa Monica Seafood was officially founded in 1939 but the real story began in 1898. That year a young man chose the life of a fisherman in California. John Deluca had only recently left his home in Naples, Italy when he put his roots down in the port city of San Pedro. Needing a way to support his growing family he looked to the sea. His hard work and respect for the ocean rubbed off on his family and before long his oldest son Jack was tagging along. Those days on the dock laid the groundwork for a family tradition that has lasted four generations.
Jack Deluca always had a passion for the sea. From the age of nine he was at the docks pulling lines, scaling and gutting fish, and filleting the fish – all the elements of bringing seafood to market. By the age of 16 he was the proud owner of his own fishing vessel and at the tender age of 21 he was the co-owner of his own wholesale company, State Fish Company. Alongside his close friend and future brother-in-law, Gerald Cigliano, Jack built State Fish Company into a formidable presence in the wholesale seafood business in the Los Angeles area.
Jack eventually grew restless at State Fish Company and left to join L.A. Fish & Oyster. The 10 years he spent at L.A. Fish & Oyster were good to Jack. He made a name for himself at the new company and even started his own family, but he couldn’t shake his entrepreneurial passion. After 10 years as an employee, Jack and his younger brother, Frank, joined together to embark on what would become their life’s work. In 1939, the two brothers set up shop at the end of the Santa Monica Pier selling fresh fish to restaurants and tourists alike under the company banner of Santa Monica Seafood.
For the next 42 years Jack and Frank worked to build Santa Monica Seafood into one of the top distributors of seafood in Southern California. They went from selling the catch of the day to hungry tourists on the Santa Monica Pier to selling fresh and frozen fish to the top restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County. By 1969 an operation that had been borne on fresh-caught halibut, shark, sea bass, tuna and lobsters had outgrown its original location and had to move twelve blocks east to the corner of 12th Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. The new location served as the headquarters for an ever-burgeoning wholesale business as well as the seafood market that has come to be known as “the cathedral of seafood” to many residents of L.A. County.
While the Delucas were busy building the framework for Santa Monica Seafood, their cousins, the Ciglianos, were on the docks of San Pedro continuing the business of State Fish Company. Jack Deluca’s brother-in-law, Gerald Cigliano, had passed the business on to his eldest son Anthony who, in turn, was getting help from his own seven children. The precocious youngsters, in between helping their father and going to school, had set up a business of their own on the San Pedro docks. They would get fish from the fishermen to sell to fish peddlers when they weren’t busy unloading boats and sorting fish.
In 1981 the families came together again when Anthony Cigliano and his children purchased the company from Uncles Jack and Frank. Over the next several years each of Anthony’s children joined the daily operations of Santa Monica Seafood as the company continued to expand.
In 1985 a second retail/wholesale facility was opened in Orange County to serve a business that had pushed into Palm Springs, San Diego and Las Vegas. The new location, with its retail space and larger warehouse facilities, served to further extend the reach of Santa Monica Seafood. In 1997 a retail-only store was opened in Costa Mesa to further the company’s exposure to local consumers. More recently, the wholesale operations were streamlined in 2002, when the warehouses in Orange and Santa Monica were combined at the company’s new corporate headquarters in Rancho Dominguez, CA.
After more than 40 years at its location on Colorado Avenue, the first Santa Monica Seafood retail store was relocated to Wilshire Blvd. where it boasts an incredible refrigerated seafood display, grocery products from around the world and a small café featuring the freshest seafood sold in the Southwest. Also, in 2009, the Company opened a new Las Vegas office with docking and storage facilities.
Santa Monica Seafood expanded their reach again in 2011 with the opening of a Phoenix, AZ distribution hub. That same year the company purchased Long Beach Seafood and welcomed both their respected and experienced staff and customers to our family.
In 2012 Santa Monica Seafood acquired Central Coast Seafood, adding yet more purchasing power and access to local fisheries along the central coast of California. Central Coast Seafood continues to operate under their own name, bringing their unique blend of quality, service and experience to customers as far north as San Francisco.
Jack Deluca founded Santa Monica Seafood with the philosophy, “Provide the highest quality product at a fair and reasonable price.” Today his great-nephews are carrying on that tradition with a new purpose. Anthony Cigliano’s second-born son, Anthony, is the President of the company. He directly oversees a purchasing department that is at the cutting edge of seafood sustainability. Recently the company joined with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to promote and develop new and better ways to source seafood that conform to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative. The philosophy of providing the highest quality product now demands ethical and sustainable sourcing of fish and education of both customers and the public at large.
The Cigliano family is at the forefront of preservation and aquaculture efforts to ensure the bounty of our seas for generations to come and their love of the sea remains unabated. Our story is the past, the present, and the future of the seafood industry.