In HearSway

Don’t be fooled by the shiny new bar top that he’s got, because the owner of the House of Fish is still Danny from the haddock.

Danny Hayes atop his new bar top, by local artisans Bottoms Up Custom Creations.

Though Danny Hayes is still in the midst of a major reno at his restaurant’s new home (36471 U.S. 1, Aberdeen), the kitchen is open for takeout. Tables await customers who want to reel in shrimp, crab cakes, swordfish and whatever else was once swimming while hearing him banter on live videos from the kitchen, just for the halibut.

Top, a “lobsta” roll; above, the swordfish and shrimp may be staples, but the collard sandwich is a local favorite.

Since closing the House of Fish’s N.C. 211 location in August 2020, Hayes has been hard at work to bring plans of a dining room with a supper-club vibe to life. After several delays, he started serving takeout this April, and this month added self-serve seating in the space that will eventually become a full-service bar.

Natalie “I Quit” Cox, with personal roastmaster Danny Hayes

The nationwide restaurant staff shortage, too, is keeping House of Fish to a one-man operation.

And while several local restaurants have a local following, they’d be hard-pressed to find people to work for free. Longtime customer Natalie Cox has done just that, volunteering to answer Danny’s to-go phone in the afternoons — which she does in between empty threats to quit in response to good-natured roasts hurled from behind the grill.

As takeout and counter service continues, so will work to bring Danny’s dreams to life. Plans include a full-service bar with 20 taps, main dining room with entertainment stage and oyster bar, a semi-private dining room, and a fully private room with its own entrance and bathroom, for those tired of dining among mere mortals. Fresh paint, new floors and room dividers made of smoked glass and barn doors will complete the House of Fish’s “sexy and modern” glo-up.

“For me, it’s nothing but sheer determination and focus, not only to make my business successful but to make myself as a person successful,” he says. “I only see the positive.”

 Call him on his shell phone (910-757-0357) and place an order from noon to 8 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. On Tuesdays, call for the lobsta rolls. Here’s the menu.

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