(WKBN) – First, it was the shortage of toilet paper, then lumber — the list is long. Now, three days before Christmas Eve, a night when many local families eat the “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” getting all seven isn’t as easy this year and it might not be due to the coronavirus.
Whether it’s clams, cod, calamari or smelts, getting all seven fishes ready for dinner the night before Christmas takes some planning.
“We’ve got about 50 right now that we’re sitting on and it’ll just go up from there,” said Joe Mamounis, manager of Avalon Downtown.
“We get phone calls and people coming in every day just asking about smelts,” said Frank Occhibove, manager of Jimmy’s Italian Specialties.
But we got a call that some grocers and restaurants are having a tough time getting certain seafood. At Avalon Downtown, calamari has been in short supply.
“We’re having trouble getting calamari right now but the supply chain shortage really doesn’t stop there at calamari,” Mamounis said.
At Jimmy’s Italian Specialties on Belmont Avenue, Lake Erie smelts had to be allotted for the year and they were only able to get about a quarter of their usual amount.
“In the past, we’ve been able to sell 12 maybe 13 hundred pounds. I think we were able to get not even 400 this year,” Occhibove said.
This shortage is not a fallout of COVID-19. Instead, last year’s warm winter shortened the supply.
“It really is disrupting everything. It not only disrupts this time of year but Lent, which is just a few months away. I hope we have a cold winter,” Occhibove said.
Jimmy’s is capped out and has already finished taking Christmas Eve orders. Avalon Downtown is still taking orders, but you should call soon.
“We’re working with other suppliers to get more as we speak,” Mamounis said.
And if you can’t find the exact fish you want, swim around and see what else is out there.
“I think the fish offerings that are out there certainly don’t limit you to calamari and smelts. So maybe get creative with it — there’s a lot more fish in the sea,” Mamounis said.
A few other grocers we heard from said they’re seeing similar issues. Also, with a shorter supply, some of the prices of these fish have gone up.