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Martin County smoked fish dip company rebounds during COVID-19 pandemic

Mrs. Peters Smokehouse in Martin County makes 3,500 containers of smoked fish dip daily.jpg
Posted at 1:53 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 18:18:33-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A Martin County business is surviving and still smoking after it had to pivot when it lost a huge chunk of its customer base during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, if you enjoyed a smoked fish dip at your favorite seafood restaurant, there's a chance it came from Mrs. Peters Smokehouse.

Housed in an unassuming building in Martin County’s Rio community, Mrs. Peters Smokehouse is celebrating its 90th birthday in 2021.

They crank out 3,500 containers of smoked fish dip daily.

"It’s bringing a taste of old Florida to the customer," said owner Geary Stonesifer.

Stonesifer said when COVID hit, they suddenly lost their restaurant base.

"It was almost like turning off a light. The restaurants all shut down during the lockdown and we received absolutely no orders," Stonesifer said.

"We were surprised it kept going. We thought we would have to shut down a few days, a week," said general manager Margherita Hannon.

Unable to secure a small business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, they reduced some of their employees hours temporarily, but didn’t lay anyone off.

"It turned out that the business did pick up," Stonesifer said.

They soon discovered that with more people staying at home, dips were a popular supermarket buy, so they targeted growing their grocery store business.

While almost everything at Mrs. Peters Smokehouse is done the old fashioned way, the recent successes they’ve had are requiring them to go a little more automated.

"So the mahi, mermaid, and wahoo will be going through and done per container through machines. Everything else will be done by hand since everything is made by hand here," Hannon said.

The dips are sold not just in Publix, but in other grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts, which plan to take this Martin County product nationwide.

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