Bella Vista: Anastasi Seafood Is A Family Affair
Located at 1101 S. Ninth St. since 1996, Anastasi Seafood features a dining room that seats its guests and serves a wide array of seafood from around the world. It also has a full-service bar and a takeout section that offers its full menu.
(pictured above andbelow) is the fourth-generation family owner and works alongside her brother, Salvatore Anastasi. Although she has held her management position for years, she still finds new reasons to look forward to her job each day.
“I thank God for the customers and the phone calls because it keeps me very busy,” Stechman said. “It keeps me excited about what I do, and pleased to come back the next day.”
Keeping the legacy alive is not a simple task, and the Anastasi siblings work tirelessly to maintain the family name.
“Sal’s job starts very early in the morning talking on the phone to make decisions about what we need from faraway vendors,” Stechman said. “We divide the responsibilities such that he buys everything, and it’s my job to make sure it gets sold and that the money goes in the bank.”
Looking ahead, Stechman predicts that the future is bright for Anastasi Seafood, with more people wanting to transition into healthier lifestyles and make better dietary choices.
A USDA article from 2016 states that although the seafood consumption has decreased from its peak of 16.5 pounds per capita in 2006, there has been an overall increase in consumption of seafood since 1970.
“I can see people want to eat healthier today than they did in the past,” Stechman said. “When I first started selling seafood, it was a poor man’s food. But because of the way the doctors talk about health, it’s now become mainstream. Everyone’s concerned about what they eat, so we don’t sell anything that’s processed.”
Erik Hijazi is the assistant manager at Anastasi’s and has worked there for more than 10 years. At 26 years old, he appreciates ownerships’ commitment to their younger staff’s futures.
“Sal and Janet make it a point of emphasis for Anastasi Seafood to be a beneficial place to work at for the younger generation,” Hijazi said. “Janet stresses the importance of young people on our staff to go to college and to become successful adults in our society.”
Hijazi says he is appreciative of Stechman’s guidance and, in particular, her flexibility in scheduling his work hours to accommodate his hectic school workload.
“Anastasi Seafood is extra special to me because it’s the place where I have spent a lot of time at as I have become a stable and responsible man,” Hijazi said. “I can proudly say that I have chased my dream to help people overcome their addictions, with just a few credits left to earn. This place continues to be a major support system on my way to reaching my dream.”
To keep his mind flowing at work during the fall semesters, Hijazi has incorporated a unique style of calculating the yearly revenue increase, with a focus on the winter holidays.
“I keep track of our yearly financial growth based off the business inside the restaurant on major holidays,” Hijazi said. “I look at it visually, in terms of how much busier we are during the given Christmas than the previous year, and over the past five Christmases that I have been working here full-time, every year has been convincingly busier.”
Chris Craft has been a frequent customer for more than 10 years and enjoys the camaraderie between all the occupying parties inside Anastasi’s, especially as Christmas nears.
“One of the most enjoyable aspects of Anastasi Seafood is the way the staff and the customers all truly enjoy being around each other,” Craft said. “Especially during Christmastime, when everyone is celebrating their good fortune. This time of the year is when Anastasi’s is at its best.”
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming for some food service places, but Stechman believes that years of practice has helped to make perfect.
“It’s our favorite time of year,” Stechman said. “We’ve been doing this for more than 40 years, my brother and I. So, we feel we’ve kind of gotten it down and it gives us the chance to see customers that we usually only see around the holidays.”
The all-inclusive dining options that Anastasi Seafood has provided to their customers, has made Craft and like-minded seafood fans in South Philadelphia loyal partners.
“By providing the bar, the seafood restaurant, the option for fresh fish and of course the ability to sit and have a meal, it’s all in one package right here in South Philadelphia,” Craft said. “Does it get any better?”
-Text, video and images by Alex Starkman and Nydja Hood.