COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County welcomed in a new seafood restaurant Thursday morning as the Skrimp Shack held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open its Covington location.
Initially slated to open its doors April 2, the Skrimp Shack delayed the debut of its Covington franchise nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seafood chain is best known for its generous portion sizes at more affordable rates than the competition. Their specialties include a catfish nugget basket, the Skrimp n’ Crab Meat Po Boy and homemade banana pudding, among many other delicious options. They also pride themselves on their homemade breader and sauces for every item on the menu.
“We are a fast casual, made-to-order seafood destination for those craving huge portions at affordable prices,” Skrimp Shack co-founder Stacey Hartman said.
Stacey opened the chain’s first location alongside her husband, Mitch Hartman, in Newport News, Va., in September 2011.
The couple had years of prior experience in the restaurant business before founding the Skrimp Shack. Mitch previously worked as a cook and was also a licensed vender selling fresh seafood out of a truck in a church parking lot. Stacey, meanwhile, had been waiting tables at a nearby Texas Roadhouse.
In 2011, the Hartmans decided they were going to team up and open a fresh seafood market in Newport News. However, after completing the necessary paperwork and signing the lease, they were informed 80% of their revenue must come from cooked food rather than fresh fish.
So, they adapted. Inadequately funded to operate as a full-time restaurant, Stacey and Mitch placed their faith in God and began saving up money for the equipment they needed.
By 2015, they were able to open their second franchise in Jefferson Avenue. Less than nine years after the first Skrimp Shack opened up, Covington became the 29th location for the chain, and the first in the state of Georgia.
“Within two years that little location in Newport News exploded and it wasn’t big enough for us anymore,” Stacey Hartman said.
The company now has franchises spread throughout northern Virginia, as well as several stores in North Carolina and one in Greenacres, Fla.
“This has all been such a blessing from God. He had a plan, and we just kept going,” Stacey explained, choking back tears. “I still remember how we felt when we were back in the very first location. It’s all been an incredible journey of trials and tribulations.”
Around two years ago, Ron and Chivon Cyrus were in Virginia visiting family when they paid a visit to a local Skrimp Shack for the first time. Immediately impressed by their experience, they reached out to the Hartmans through the company’s website and began inquiring about how they could open up a franchise of their own.
Following more than a year’s worth of discussions and searching for an ideal destination, the Cyruses were given ownership of a franchise here in Covington.
“I know that Ron and Chivon are going to be very good store owners,” Stacey said. “They’re very good people.”
The Covington Skrimp Shack is located in the Kroger shopping center on Highway 20. For updates on their hours and operations in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, please visit www.theskrimpshack.com.