Saltbox Seafood Joint’s original shack is back in business for lunch

The winter chill chases away Durham’s best fish sandwich each season, but Saltbox Seafood Joint’s original shack is back in business.

A few months after Chef Ricky Moore opened his new, larger location of the iconic seafood restaurant, his original location at 608 Mangum St. reopened March 9 for lunch.

Moore is rebranding the Mangum Street spot as Saltbox Express, paring down the menu options to just a few varieties of North Carolina seafood, all served on a roll — no plates here. He’s also serving his famous hush-honeys, potato wedges and slaw, plus canned drinks.

“This is Saltbox Express, it’s designed for speed,” Moore said.

The shack will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Across town, Moore continues to run his new Saltbox Seafood at 2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

The new Saltbox, which opened in December, is where Moore is building his future, expanding his menu and offering indoor seating for the first time. The former Shrimp Boats building lends a good bit of character and charm, Moore said, plus a dining room of mostly wood and galvanized metal accents. The 1,500-square-foot location has indoor seating for 50.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Moore said.

Moore opened Saltbox Seafood five years ago on Mangum Street, serving seasonal catches from coastal North Carolina. Channeling the Eastern North Carolina fish houses he knew growing up, Moore cooked from a shack just big enough for his kitchen and offered picnic tables as seating. Long lines and a wait proved to be little barrier to fresh fish, lightly fried and aggressively seasoned.

Moore’s bare bones operation became known as one of the best seafood joints in the Triangle.

Moore has even more projects in the works. There’s a Markay Media film crew following him around these days, shooting a pilot for a potential PBS series on coastal North Carolina foodways. Markay Media is the Durham-based production company behind Kinston Chef Vivian Howard’s “A Chef’s Life.” That show has won numerous awards, including a Peabody Award and Daytime Emmy Award. Howard, the host, has won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Television Personality.

Moore said to look for teasers and web videos this year.

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