edible notables

FAREWELL CAPTAIN CROWELL
Celebrating seafood mogul Jim Crowell and his remarkable life.

Written by Heidi Bethel
Photos courtesy of Chris Holloman and the Crowell family

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Jim Crowell pulls a live lobster out of a tank at Sierra Gold Seafood

On July 13, after Jim Crowell took his last breath, Reno-Tahoe lost a pioneer of the local fish and seafood industry. Crowell was largely responsible for providing the majority of seafood to area restaurants and casinos for more than 35 years. His wife, Cindy Crowell, and sons, Justin and Brandon Crowell, will continue to source quality products at Sierra Gold Seafood in Sparks while honoring Jim’s top-notch dedication to serving customers. 

“Our dad would do anything for his customers,” Justin recalls. “I remember when we were kids, he’d bring me in to work on the weekends and pull a live lobster out of one of the tanks. He’d put it on the ground to keep me busy while he had his meetings. I was in awe … of both the lobster and watching my dad interact with people.”

Jim’s fondness for sea life started long before he began entertaining his sons with the creatures. When he was 16 years old, Jim worked for Long Beach Seafood near the sunny Southern California coast. He spent his days butchering halibut, loading trucks, and preparing fresh fish and seafood products for consumption, all in an effort to save money for a car. He got the car. He worked his way up. And when he was 25, he married his love Cindy.

Netting in Nevada

Not too long afterward, they found themselves living in Washoe Valley as Jim continued to make waves in the seafood industry. Employed by Nevada Seafood for nearly two decades, he was grateful for the experience but wanted to do something new with his family. In November 2006, Jim, Cindy, Justin, and Brandon opened Sierra Gold Seafood.

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From left, Brandon, Cindy, Jim, and Justin Crowell inside the seafood market

“We started as a small shop with a mission to provide the best to the area,” Brandon says. “My dad’s camaraderie and the connection he had with local chefs was what made us a success. He instilled the value of hard work in us. He gave us so much wisdom and knowledge, but he always stressed the importance of hard work and building relationships.”

Those relationships continued to flourish as Sierra Gold Seafood’s retail market opened in 2015. The market had been Jim’s idea. 

“At first we were a little skeptical, but my dad really wanted to do it,” Brandon says. “We didn’t know if building a market in the middle of commercial Sparks would bring people, but it did. I guess if you build it, they will come.”

In honor of “Captain Jim,” as he was often affectionately called, every year on his birthday, Sept. 21, Sierra Gold Seafood will offer a 20 percent discount to retail customers. Since the retail market is closed Mondays, this year the promotion will be available Sept. 22. For details, visit Sierragoldseafood.com

Since her 20s, Heidi Bethel has had an amazing friendship with the Crowell family. She always enjoyed conversations with Jim and was beyond honored to write this piece.

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