Atlanta Orders In: Big B’s reels in fish and seafood lovers

The Maine lobster roll is among the top sellers at Big B's Fish Joint in Sandy Springs. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint
The Maine lobster roll is among the top sellers at Big B's Fish Joint in Sandy Springs. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Barry Mills has a problem: He’s reeled in so many patrons to Big B’s Fish Joint in Sandy Springs that his staff can’t keep up with the demand for lobster rolls, $1 happy hour oysters, red snapper and poke bowls.

“It’s a great problem,” admitted Mills, who has worked in the restaurant industry for years, including as co-founder of Flip Burger. “We’re lucky the neighborhood has embraced us and we’re busy.”

Big B’s is so busy that Mills opted to close the doors after Sunday brunch service over Memorial Day weekend, rather than stay open through dinner service, because he didn’t have enough hands. “I’d rather just shut down than have angry customers,” said Mills, who launched the restaurant at the Gateway Sandy Springs development in November, 2019.

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Flip Burger co-founder Barry Mills opened Big B's Fish Joint in November, 2019, at the Gateway Sandy Springs development on Roswell Road. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint
Flip Burger co-founder Barry Mills opened Big B's Fish Joint in November, 2019, at the Gateway Sandy Springs development on Roswell Road. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Like restaurant operators nationwide, Mills is hiring for all positions. And, he’s concerned about overworking a team that frequently is clocking double shifts. “Our main concern is our staff burning out,” he said. “We have to be really careful, because you can lose more staff than you are gaining.”

And, he added, that can lead to a domino effect: “People get tired, and then the quality of food goes down, the service.”

Take one bite of blackened catfish, grilled grouper or flaky fried cod at Big B’s, and the high quality of the fish is apparent. A chalkboard that lists the catch of the day constantly changes (”That’s the nature of the business when you are dealing with fresh fish”), but, lately, the pandemic is to blame for disrupting the fish and seafood industry. “We’re still feeling the effects of COVID,” Mills said. “I can tell you what I’m doing today. It will be different tomorrow.”

Crab and lobster, he said, both are difficult to source. Grouper isn’t a gimme, either.

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The breezy interior of Big B's Fish Joint includes a full bar. A chalkboard at the entrance lists the fresh catch of the day. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint
The breezy interior of Big B's Fish Joint includes a full bar. A chalkboard at the entrance lists the fresh catch of the day. Courtesy of Big B's Fish Joint

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

However, customers who order online won’t be frustrated to read “sold out” beside normally standard menu items, because the ordering system is integrated with the restaurant’s point of sales system. When the menu is updated each day, to reflect the fish offerings, the online system automatically is refreshed, as well. Mills noted that he was fortunate to have the technology installed prior to the pandemic, “not realizing the pandemic would take it to a whole other level.”

The restaurant space, formerly home to Verde Taqueria, likewise has proved to be well-suited to coronavirus safety protocols. The interior is large and airy, with operable garage doors that connect to a patio dotted with 14 umbrella tables.

“We’re following our most conservative customers, in terms of safety,” Mills said. “I’ve got customers that are still very concerned about (COVID-19). It’s amazing that some people are like, ‘This is the only place I go.’”

Patrons who order carryout are not overlooked, either. Two parking spots out front are dedicated to curbside. When the food is ready, a server will call your cellphone and run the food out to your car.

With that kind of service, it’s no wonder that Big B’s keeps reeling in customers.

The Admiral Platter at Big B's Fish Joint features battered and fried cod, shrimp and scallops with Old Bay french fries, coleslaw and house-made tartar and cocktail sauces. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
The Admiral Platter at Big B's Fish Joint features battered and fried cod, shrimp and scallops with Old Bay french fries, coleslaw and house-made tartar and cocktail sauces. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

BIG B’S FISH JOINT

Menu: seafood

Alcohol: full bar on-premises; bottled wine and beer to go

What I ordered: shrimp cocktail; Admiral Platter; catfish platter; trout plate; grouper plate. Pick from the Today’s Catch menu board, and you’ll taste the freshness. The grouper, ordered grilled, was especially flavorful. The Admiral Platter brings a selection of Alaskan cod, jumbo shrimp and jumbo scallops, all battered and fried to a golden brown (the cod was impressively flaky). French fries seasoned with Old Bay, sweet potato tots, coleslaw and broccoli raisin salad all are recommended sides.

Service options: dine-in, carryout; no delivery; order in person or online

Outdoor dining: patio with umbrella tables

Mask policy: employees all wear masks; customers must wear masks indoors when not seated

Address, phone: 4600 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs; 470-355-8326

Hours: 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: bigbsfishjoint.com

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