Con Andronis has been referred to as Melbourne’s own King Neptune. Already a major seafood supplier and retailer in Victoria, Andronis has recently opened up a new seafood restaurant, The Atlantic, in Melbourne’s Crown complex.

With decades in the industry, Andronis’ story is an interesting one. He started out in the seafood game around 32 years ago. Aged 28 at the time, he says he was at a lull in his life and looking for something to do. “I was always involved in food.

My parents always had a restaurant or some sort of involvement in food, and somehow I ended up in the fish game,” he tells. “Normally with the fish game it’s hereditary, and it certainly was those days, there were no outsiders that came into the industry.” In the early stages of his foray into fish, Andronis opened up a business called Kippers Seafood, setting up boutique fish shops in Toorak village and Church St, Brighton.

“That sort of revolutionised the fish game a bit, I learnt very quickly. I was the first to put fillets of fish in the window, everybody laughed at me because before that people only sold whole fish,” he says, adding “filleted fish was what Toorak and Brighton people wanted, they didn’t want bones.” Andronis also made marinara mix, and gourmet selections of seafood including vol au vents, seafood pancakes, and sausages.

After getting out of the business in 1983, Andronis “roamed around for a few years” and met his soon-to-be business partner George Kaparas around the nightclub scene. They decided to start a business, which saw the birth of Clamms Seafood, which started on Commercial Rd before it moved to Acland St in St Kilda. “The rest is history,” Andronis says. “It was a great shop, still is, and we started the small wholesale business from the back of the shop in St Kilda which grew very, very quickly.” After Andronis’ son James finished university he jumped on board the family business. “My son finished uni and decided stupidly to enter the fish game,” Andronis jokes. “It was good that he joined, he brought new, young ideas to the company and while the father and son combination isn’t exactly the easiest to work with we got on alright.” While the Acland St shop proved a busy retail shop, it also outgrew itself on the wholesale side. Now one of the biggest seafood wholesalers in Australia, the Clamms factory buys between 35 and 40 tonnes of fresh and frozen fish a week from suppliers around the country. “We had about 10 vans; now we have 45, so we built a brand new factory in Yarraville and we supply supermarkets, we export, we supply close to 800, if not more, restaurants in Melbourne alone and probably all of country Victoria as well,” Andronis says. Clamms Seafood supplies about 85 to 87 percent of all hatted restaurants in Melbourne. “We do a lot of high end and a lot of volume. We really do a mixture of things,” Andronis says. Over the last five to 10 years seafood has changed enormously, Andronis says. “People are much more aware of food these days, they’re pretty switched on. Some people used to use substitutes in the seafood game; no one can get away with stuff like that anymore.” European and Asian tastes have enormous influence in Melbourne’s restaurant scene, Andronis says. “We sell everything; there isn’t anything in the ocean now that is not introduced to restaurants. You wouldn’t think sea urchins or cuttle fish would ever be used. Octopus was only in Greek taverns but everyone uses it now, it’s just the most amazing things.” Already well established in the seafood industry, Andronis went on to develop the highly successful event space Events Warehouse on South Wharf, an acclaimed events venue with a menu that was created on the premises to fine restaurant standards. “From there I always had a dream, and I’d had a lot of opportunities to open restaurants, but I wanted to open a good seafood restaurant by the water,” Andronis said. The opportunity to open what is now The Atlantic restaurant, in Melbourne’s Crown Complex on Southbank, saw this dream become a reality. The Atlantic opened in March this year. “It’s a big restaurant, they’re not easy, and they involve a lot of work and you need to be consistent,” Andronis says. “Most major restaurants in Melbourne sell a lot of seafood but you don’t find that many good seafood restaurants in Melbourne, or Sydney. We’re about doing our own thing, and doing our best.”