With two successful Fayetteville locations, Yamani Albert is bringing Straight Drop Seafood & Catering to Wilmington.
Straight Drop is taking the place of Sloppy Poppy’s at 4540 Fountain Drive and specializes in low country boil platters served with signature sauces.
After serving 12 years in the Army, Albert was facing early retirement as the result of an injury. Unsure of the extent of his benefits, he knew he had find to a way to provide for his family. So he drew on his experience as an Army cook and began doing pop-up low country boils.
He said he sold just six plates his first day. The second day he sold 10. And by the third day he was up to 50. Albert said he knew this was something he could be successful at, something that would allow him to provide for his own family as well as create opportunities within the community.
Albert said he wants to give people a chance to succeed, particularly those whose lives may have taken them down the wrong path. He admits that he himself was headed toward a life of crime on the streets of Memphis prior to joining the Army.
“I want to give people an opportunity for a second chance,” Albert said, “and use the leadership skills I learned in the Army to show them how to be successful.”
Albert now has 125 employees, and views his role as not only a restaurateur, but also a mentor.
“I motivate my staff by example,” Albert said, “and show them that if they put their heart and soul into something positive, that they’re going to be successful.”
Albert originally planned to open his third location in Lumberton or Raleigh, but said he’s been inundated with requests from Wilmington customers to set up shop in the Port City.
Albert said he had never even been to Wilmington, but when a customer who travels to Fayetteville to eat at Straight Drop urged him to take a look at the Fountain Drive location, he decided to make the trip to check it out.
“I was really amazed by Wilmington, and there’s really no one doing the kind of seafood we do, especially in this part of town,” Albert said.
Additionally, Albert said he feels that Wilmington is in need of mentors, and job opportunities for young adults, particularly those from low-income communities.
“There are many valuable lessons to be learned in the service industry, skills that people can take with them into other industries and be successful,” he said.
Straight Drop’s menu starts with a base platter that includes two ears of corn, potatoes and sausage. From there customers can add on as many additional items as they choose, selecting from items such as shrimp, crab leg clusters and lobster tails.
Albert said that because of the large volume of seafood he sells, he’s able to purchase high-quality seafood and still keep his prices reasonable.
“A family of four can enjoy a seafood platter for around $60,” Albert said.
Albert and his team are putting the finishing touches on the 100-seat restaurant, which will offer patio seating as well. Carry-out and off-site catering will be available. Pending final permits and inspection, Albert hopes to open by mid-May.
“We’re receiving tons of calls and messages via social media about when we’ll be open, and believe me, we’re working as fast as we can,” Albert said.
Follow Straight Drop Seafood Wilmington on Facebook for updates on opening day.
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