Our story begins in Port Isabel Texas in the late 1800’s when Great Grandfather Bernardo Perez fished the Lower Laguna Madre.
Bernardo would take his schooner out into the bay, spread his nets across the water, pull them in by hand and catch fish native to the Texas Gulf Coast: Redfish, Drum, Flounder and Speckled Trout. Most of his catch was sold to the local population, thus the start of our family in the seafood business.
Bernardo was the father of eight children, one of which was Hortensia Perez – our grandmother. While Bernardo and his sons, Rodolfo and Noberto, made a living fishing the Texas Gulf Coast, Hortensia grew up and married George Groomer, a mechanic from Missouri, who was working on the construction of the jettys in South Padre Island. During this time, Port Isabel grew from a small obscure fishing village to a veritable hotspot for recreational fishing and became home to the largest shrimping fleet in the nation. In fact, locals refer to this time as the “Golden Age” of Port Isabel.
Hortensia and George had two sons, George Jr. and Gilbert – our dad. Unfortunately, George Groomer died when his sons were still very young. Their uncle Rodolfo became a father figure to the boys and was especially close to Gilbert, teaching him to fish the flats of the Lower Laguna Madre just as his father had taught him. By the age of 22, Gilbert owned ten fishing boats and was selling his catch to Gavito’s Seafood and Pace Seafood out of Brownsville. He would often transport his fish to Magnolia Seafood House in Houston, where he got 10 to 25 cents per pound for the fish.
At the same time Gilbert was becoming a skilled fisherman, our maternal step-grandfather, Jake Jenkins, was an oil wildcatter in Oklahoma. The story goes that during a late night poker game, one of the players ran out of money and placed a shrimp boat located in Port Isabel as collateral. Jake won this hand with the ace of diamonds. Finding himself the proud owner of a shrimp boat, Jake moved his family to Port Isabel to try his hand at shrimping on his new boat which he christened “The Ace of Diamonds”.
These two seafood families united when Gilbert Groomer wed Jake’s eldest stepdaughter in 1950. This union produced four sons who grew up in the seafood industry. Gilbert Groomer formed a new company called Groomer & Sons Seafood that sold fresh and frozen seafood in the Port Isabel / Harlingen area.
Tough economic times hit the Rio Grande Valley during the late seventies and early eighties. We knew that we would be forced out of business unless we made changes. It was at this time that we got a new vision of the seafood industry and what our company could accomplish.
We changed our name to Groomer Seafood and moved from South Texas to San Antonio, in 1982. We would be centrally located and could supply seafood across the state of Texas. We became the “Federal Express” of seafood. If a restaurant wanted product, our goal was to have it to them within hours of their order. We spread our operations across the state and eventually had facilities in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Port Isabel.
By 1993, we realized that we could not sustain all these warehouse locations and consolidated our operations to the central location in San Antonio. We built a custom 20,000 square foot facility that is totally temperature controlled. This facility allows us to offer the freshest and most diverse selection of seafood in the state as well as competitive pricing and year round availability.
Groomer Seafood has been selling seafood to many of the finest restaurants, private clubs, and country clubs in Texas for the last 27 years. Give us a call at 210-377-0951 to place your order today or drop by and visit our retail stores staff, to see why purchasing your seafood from Groomer Seafood is the best way to enjoy top quality seafood.
Here at Groomers, we are proud of our rich heritage and the way our lives have been shaped by those who came before us. Seafood is in our blood and we would not have it any other way.
The 4th Generation Hard at Work!