Skippers Seafood & Chowder House
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|Independent, nonexclusive, site specific licensees|
|Industry||Fast food, seafood, licensing, retail|
|Founded||1969 in Bellevue, Washington, USA All Skippers intellectual property and rights were acquired in 2007 by Starway Restaurants, LLC.|
|Products||Fast food seafood including halibut, salmon, fish and chips, shrimp, prawns, oysters, clams, clam chowder, French fries and hush puppies, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, coleslaw dressing|
|Parent||Starway Restaurants, LLC|
Skippers Seafood & Chowder House is a group of independently owned and operated locations licensed by Starway Restaurants, LLC. There are currently licensed Skippers restaurants operating in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Starway Restaurants, LLC has also re-introduced Skippers clam chowder in ready to serve cans and Skippers tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and coleslaw dressing sold in grocery stores and over the Internet. There are over 30 Skippers locations operating under limited license agreements with Starway Restaurants, LLC.
Skippers was founded by Herb Rosen in Bellevue, Washington, in 1969, at which time Skippers began serving fried fish, prawns, scallops and clams, as well as chowders. Its corporate headquarters was eventually moved to Edmonds, where it stayed for many years until moving to SeaTac shortly before the original Skippers, Inc. was dissolved in 2007 and the Skippers brand was sold to new ownership.
Skippers experienced rapid growth during the 1970s as new restaurants were opened in several western states and British Columbia, Canada. In 1989, Kansas-based National Pizza Company purchased Skippers, Inc., closing some restaurants. National Pizza Company operated Skippers until 1995, when it was purchased by Meridian Capital and from 1995 through 2002, the Skippers management team introduced a line of grilled entrees, including grilled wild caught salmon, halibut, and chicken.
In late 2002, Skippers was purchased by a group of Pacific Northwest investors although this venture was short lived. New logos and new products were introduced in the spring of 2003, and again in 2007. As of 2007, there were Skippers stores operating in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
On December 12, 2006, Skippers, Inc., filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Court in Seattle in an organizational restructuring. The restructuring failed, and Skippers, Inc., was liquidated on June 29, 2007. Of the 58 stores remaining after Skippers initially filed for bankruptcy, approximately 14 were sold to various individuals and corporate interests through limited license agreements. When the sales of individual units and closures were finalized, Skippers, Inc., ceased to exist as a corporation.
Starway Restaurants acquired all of the intellectual property of Skippers Seafood & Chowder in late 2007. Starway's leadership stated that Skippers' customers were knowledgeable about seafood and they felt that one of the biggest mistakes made in the past was to try to "value engineer" the food on Skippers' menu in an attempt to reduce costs.
Starway indicated that customer feedback, and the personal experiences of ownership, convinced them that Skippers' past successes were built on a reputation for using high-quality ingredients and serving the type of fish & chips and chowder that Skippers' customers previously expected and deserved. Starway's leadership also claims that Skippers' use of high quality, more expensive whole-muscle fish from local suppliers is crucial to their goal of re-establishing Skippers' reputation for quality and value.
In 2008, Starway introduced sustainable, wild-caught, no-chemical-added fish that is hand-cut from whole-muscle fillets. This appears to be a significant departure from the block-cut or pressed fish often served at most national fish & chips chain restaurants.
Starway felt that some of Skippers' most popular menu offers and promotions - such as Skippers' "all you can eat" Tuesday and Sunday specials, and Skippers' "English Style" fish & chips - needed to be reintroduced and heavily marketed. The number of Skippers locations now doing so remains unclear and customers are advised to contact their local Skippers to confirm whether or not these specials and items are available.
In 2007, Starway reintroduced the award-winning original Skippers Clam Chowder in all Skippers locations. In 2009, roughly another five Skippers restaurants opened under limited license agreements. In 2008, Starway Restaurants introduced a Skippers line of ready-to-serve clam chowder in 15 ounce cans sold in Skippers restaurants and also in some grocery stores.
In February 2013, the Skippers location in Silverdale, Washington was acquired by a new, local owner/operator and underwent an extensive remodel. An upgraded menu was introduced. In that same month, Starway indicated that a project was in the works to begin remodeling additional Skippers locations.
In March 2013, Starway unveiled a new, non-traditional Skippers concept at a northwest food show that is apparently geared towards on-the-go and quick-service outlets. Industry speculation is that preparations are underway to open a significant number of these non-traditional Skippers in 2013 and 2014 with a view to substantially expanding the number of points of distribution and geographical coverage of the Skippers brand. Insiders suggest this will likely coincide with the introduction of new Skippers products, packaging, and branded elements.
In October 2013, a new location opened in Longview, Washington. Starway has confirmed that the new Skippers in Longview will feature a drive-thru and upgraded menu.
Starway indicates that a new menu will continue to prominently feature Skippers' signature fish & chips and chowder but include more grilled seafood and salad options, new appetizers and entrees, and new kids' meal options. This appears to be corroborated by the fact that a number of these items were observed to be tested at a handful of Skippers locations in late 2012 and early 2013.
Per internal Starway sources who have requested anonymity as they are not officially authorized to release information, a new Skippers mobile location will be hitting the road in July 2013. Starway has not confirmed or denied this and the exact details of "when" and "where" remain to be confirmed.
As of July 2015, there were 17 Skippers Seafood & Chowder locations operating throughout the Pacific Northwest and Inland Northwest. Skippers products continue to be sold in numerous retail locations and online (see skippers.com).