Coral Sea reels fresh seafood to Jasper


Acosta and Rodriguez

JASPER — When Ronaldo Diaz Rodriguez and his nephew, Yonluy Alejo Acosta, immigrated to the United States, they quickly realized they were without a delicacy that is commonplace in their home country of Cuba.

They missed the fresh seafood.

Local grocery stores are stocked with a variety of the frozen stuff. But Rodriguez and Acosta — who both live in Jasper — longed for the taste of fresh fish. Now, the duo is bringing just that to Dubois County.

They opened Coral Sea Fresh Fish and Seafood at the Southgate Shopping Center in Jasper last week. And once you take a bite of their shrimp, red snapper or lobster, they know you’ll never settle for anything else.

“I am going to offer quality, quantity and good service,” Acosta said through a translator during a Thursday interview.

Added Rodriguez, “Whenever they try this fish, they will not want to buy it anywhere else.”

Fresh deliveries are made to the one-of-a-kind Jasper business from Key West, Florida, on Fridays. Coral Sea’s offerings include octopus, crab, yellowtail, oysters, squid, flounder, tuna steak, mahi mahi, alligator and much more.

About six months ago, Rodriguez imported a small quantity of fresh fish and seafood to Southwestern Indiana to sell to his close friends and family. He drove to Miami and came back with a couple of freezers of food. Within two days, it was all gone.

The Coral Sea Fresh Fish and Seafood storefront in the Southgate Shopping Center.

After the products sold like hotcakes, he realized bringing a fresh market to the area would be a good business move and a way to better his community. He teamed up with Acosta, and the rest is history.

“For being part of the community, one of the things that is important for them is to give Jasper the access of new things,” said Gema Bustamante, a Jasper High School senior who has used her translation skills to help Coral Sea’s owners launch their business. “For example, the fresh food was one. Because we didn’t have that here in Jasper. And that’s important.”

They wanted to bring a taste of their previous homes to the region, and they also wanted to make a living on their own terms.

Neither had any business experience before Coral Sea. Rodriguez worked as a taxi driver in Cuba, and he held jobs at Farbest Foods and Jasper Engines & Transmissions upon arriving in the Hoosier State. Acosta has worked at JET, OFS-Styline and the nearby Hong Kong Restaurant. He also spent a year at JHS when he arrived from Spain. At the local high school, he was a member of the soccer team.

If all goes well, Rodriguez would like to work at the market for the rest of his life. He talked about potentially expanding to other cities in the state like Dale, Bloomington and Indianapolis. Bringing in fresh pork, beef and other meats is also a possibility in the future. Still, the main food will always be fish.

So far, Rodriguez and Acosta haven’t hit any snags when it comes to reeling in customers. Business has boomed since the family team opened its doors — more than 100 people have visited each day.
The new market will have a grand-opening ceremony at 4 p.m. today. It is located at 347 U.S. 231, and is open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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