Inspired by her experiences of summer seafood cookouts on the Jersey Shore when she was growing up, Danielle Mahon decided to share the experience of a low country boil with folks in coastal North Carolina.
Soon after she and her family moved to the state, she developed her signature offering – seasoned, ready-to- cook seafood in a metal pot – and opened a location in Topsail Island in 2017. Since then she has opened a store in Wrightsville Beach as well as two in her native New Jersey: one in Ocean City and one in Long Island Beach.
seafood comes from local sources whenever possible, according to Mahon.
“Any ingredient that is available in the local market, we will source there,” she said. “In North Carolina, we get local shrimp, oysters and clams. In New Jersey, we can get local scallops, clams and oysters.”
Customers can choose from a variety of ingredients and seasonings for their boil, order online or by phone and arrange a time to pick up their order. The business model made for an easy transition once COVID hit.
Even before then, Mahon had begun exploring ways to ship their product, having experienced the impact Hurricane Florence had in 2018. The company, she said, secured a resilience recovery loan from Thread Capital after the hurricane.
“It allowed us to prepare for the next catastrophe that would negatively impact our business. How would we ship our product to customers who could not get to us? We were thinking ‘natural disaster.’”
After studying options for 18 months, in January 2020 Topsail Steamer applied to Goldbelly, a national food delivery service, and was accepted by the company. Through Goldbelly, Topsail Steamer now ships its pots to all 50 states.
“The timing was pretty serendipitous; we wound up getting completely ready [to offer shipping] at the beginning of March 2020. With the pandemic, we saw demand rise at all four of our locations and across the country,” she said.
That demand is driving plans to open stores in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, and Bethany Beach, Delaware, this summer. Mahon said her team continues to look at more markets in North Carolina and farther south along the Atlantic coast.
“We knew we were successful from our first couple of stores and saw substantial growth during the pandemic,” she said. “More people were seeking us out over the past year because of circumstances – restaurants were closed and people were staying home. But now we see lots of celebrations and gifting and vacations. The local beach towns are completely booked right now: We’re seeing that in North Carolina and New Jersey, so we’re looking ahead at our busiest season.”
Danielle Mahon’s son Jimmy Mahon in the company’s CEA nomination credits his mother for setting the entrepreneurial pace, and adventurous spirit, of the enterprise.
“Danielle’s energy,” he wrote, “drives our Steam Team to bring the coastal experience to our customers every day, which means we treat people like family, connect our work to our community – and have fun!”
Click here to meet all of this year's CEA winners