Captain’s Catch: Ribbon cutting ceremony is Saturday

UPDATE: There will be an official ribbon cutting at Captain's Catch Saturday at 11 a.m.

Erin (Osborne) Ochman and Chris Ochman used to go to Captain’s Catch as teens growing up in Milford.

Today, the recently married couple own the Woodmont area eatery that has been serving up seafood for about 11 years.

Captain’s Catch is located at 1366 New Haven Avenue, in the strip mall across from Treat Farm and Adam’s Supermarket.

Chris Ochman was actually working at the restaurant while attending college when the opportunity came up to buy the place. The sale went through in recent weeks, and this young couple quickly dove into business ownership, making a few cosmetic changes inside, reviewing their menu and preparing for some long work days.

Erin and Chris are both graduates of Foran High School. After high school Chris attended Southern Connecticut State University to study geology before switching to a business major, largely inspired by the inner workings of the Captain’s Catch business.

He started working at the restaurant five years ago taking front end orders, moved to expediting orders and then to grilling and frying.

By the end he was the owner’s right hand man.

Erin earned her art education degree from Southern after graduating Foran, and she had been substitute teaching in the Milford school district. Now she will be working with her husband, focusing on management, greeting customers and writing down food orders for Chris and the two other cooks to prepare.

An artist, yes, but Erin has a good sampling of Milford-based food establishment experience. She’s prepared ice cream desserts at the Sundae House, coffee and specialty drinks at Starbucks and served many a meal to diners as a waitress at the old Bennigan’s Restaurant.

Erin and Chris, who were married in May and live in Milford, are only the third owners of Captain’s Catch. Tom and Dawn Ramadon are the original owners: They now own and operate the Cabin Fever Restaurant in the White Mountains. The business then went to Dawn’s daughter, Kaitlyn Heisler, and her husband Brad Heisler, who own the Redding Roasters Coffee Company, a specialty coffee company and shop in Bethel.

“That’s who I was working for,” Chris said.

“Somewhere along the way I decided I’d like a place like this,” Chris said. “I like the small, family style.”

Kaitlyn Heisler said the couple are the perfect fit to carry on the Captain’s Catch tradition, adding that the business is ideal for a husband and wife team: it worked for her mother and step-father and then for her and her husband.

“I think it will work for them the way it worked for us,” Heisler said.

The restaurant is about 1,300 square feet and it can seat up to 60 diners. Typically the restaurant’s business is 50% dine-in and 50% take-out.

The decor is clearly seaside, boasting fish, anchors and buoys. While they added a few of their own touches, they wanted to keep it largely as it was. The wooden fish that have decorated the restaurant since the Ramadons opened it, for example, have been seen by so many Milford people that it had to stay: Erin compares it to the way Colony Grill retained a part of the history of Harrison’s Hardware by leaving a wall of Harrison’s remembrances. There are some things it would just be a shame to lose, she said.

The menu includes clam strips, calamari, cod, sole jumbo shrimp, whole belly clams and sea scallops ranging from $8.99 a la carte to $20.99 for dinners.

There are salads, soups, including lobster bisque that diners have raved about on Yelp; hot or cold lobster rolls, hot dogs, burgers, turkey burgers, fish sandwiches, tuna melts and a whole lot more.

Lunch specials have been popular, Erin said, pointing out that the $5.95 lunch specials run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offer choices of a hamburger, turkey burger, sole sandwich, shrimp salad roll, clam strip roll, steak & tomato, chicken salad sandwich, chili and cornbread, with a bag of chips.

The Ochmans plan to add to the menu. They are considering broiled or seared seafood for those who shy away from fried foods.

“We plan to start a weekly special to gauge what people like,” Erin said.

This has been quite a year for the couple, marriage and buying a business. They said jumping into business ownership was a bit scary, another big commitment, but one they are sure will be positive.

Chris said that at 27 years old, he’s sure he’s got the energy to work the long hours to make the business work, and he loves the work.

“He always says he likes the back,” Erin said, noting that her husband enjoys timing the preparation and the cooking to produce a good hot meal quickly.

“He says it’s like putting together a puzzle,” Erin said.

She said she will enjoy working with her husband as a business team.

The hours here change slightly with the season: Now hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. In the summer they are open until 9 p.m.

A grand reopening will take place Dec. 12.