Downtown Market Grand Rapids’ new fish market, Fish Lads

The long anticipated moment has finally arrived: the indoor shopping center of the Downtown Market Grand Rapids is open, with the Grand Opening this past Labor Day Monday. The indoor market has 19 different vendors currently, ranging from spices to flowers to meats to sweets and more. Open every day, the indoor market brings a number of specialty fares to the Grand Rapids community.


Jeff Butzow, Fish Lads
Jeff Butzow, Fish Lads

One of the most anticipated vendors, Fish Lads, brings fresh seafood to West Michigan through Fish Monger, Jeff Butzow. Fish Lads brings fresh product from the East Coast, West Coast, and our own Michigan Great Lakes. Fish Lads has a counter for customers to pull up a stool and try some of the menu features, as well as refrigerated cases full of sustainable, fresh seasonal and exotic catches.


Butzow, a native of Traverse City, spent most of his adult life in Seattle working at two different seafood markets within Pike Place Market. Butzow’s dream of opening his own seafood market business became a reality as the puzzle pieces began to fit together back in Michigan, specifically at the Downtown Market Grand Rapids. The timing was near perfect, as he was already looking for a reason to move back to Michigan and be closer to family.


Pleasantly surprised by the exponential growth Grand Rapids has experienced since he was last here, Butzow looks forward to being an integral part of continuing that growth. “The most exciting thing is the way that the city is growing and the community involvement. This community embraces small business growth and is, as a whole, so helpful, accommodating, friendly, and nice,” shares Butzow.


Having a fresh seafood market is a new and warmly welcomed addition to the Grand Rapids community. In fact, many individuals living in this area are not even aware of the fresh product available in our very own Great Lakes. Fish Lads will provide fresh product from both coasts through airfreighted product out of Chicago a few times a week. Additionally, Fish Lads sources through local farms and Lake Superior as much as possible.


“We source trout from a local trout farm. Lake Superior gives us whitefish, walleye, yellow perch, and lake trout. The East and West Coasts bring us wild salmon, and a long season of Alaskan halibut (from March to November). We also receive exotic product from Hawaii, like swordfish, tuna, and marlin. We will have crabs, oysters, mussels, and more,” explains Butzow.


Fish Lads plans to have fresh product as much as possible all year long, though the winter months present more challenges, especially with a climate like Michigan. Customers will be able to order from the menu and eat at the counter, tour the kitchen, and leave with freshly sliced, cleaned, and wrapped seafood.


Butzow is excited to bring this fresh fish culture to the ever-growing food culture present in the West Michigan community. “The Downtown Market has enough space for us to bring all aspects of this business together—classes, visiting chefs, cooking studios, educational facilities, incubation kitchens—all on location.”


As a community, Grand Rapids looks forward to what Butzow can showcase. His knowledge and focus on sustainable, local practices fit right into the niche this community already nurtures. Butzow recaps, “I have received such a warm welcome in such a short amount of time already; I look forward to returning the favor in some way, I plan to make [Fish Lads] big.”


What type of fish do you like to eat the most?


Photo credit: Kristin Coppens


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