Quite the catch: Craig and Jana Reaves Keep it Fresh and Local at Sea Eagle Market

One thing that makes Beaufort different from hundreds of thousands of other towns in America is its location and connection to the sea. And one family makes that unique connection come alive through Sea Eagle Market.

“We want to say thank you for voting us Beaufort’s Best Seafood for the last three years,” said Craig and Jana Reaves, owners and managers of the market. “From our Boats to your table is more than just a slogan for all of us here at Sea Eagle.  We catch what we can, and then we work with local docks and fishermen to bring you the freshest seafood available every day.”

Craig and Jana Reaves. Photo courtesy of The Lills Design.
Craig and Jana Reaves. Photo courtesy of The Lills Design.

What is the key to their business success in Beaufort? “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” said Craig.  He also credits all the hardworking members of the Sea Eagle team, adding with a smile, “Our crew is a motley crew, but they are a vital and important part of our family.”

Craig and Jana were both born and raised in Holden Beach, North Carolina. For Craig, seafood is his family heritage: The Reaves family has been in the seafood business for more than 40 years, so it’s all he has ever done.

He said, “We have diversified from being shrimpers to oystermen to crabbers to wholesale seafood sellers to now having two retail store locations. God has blessed us tremendously!”

Craig and Jana purchased Sea Eagle Market on Boundary Street in 2007. Craig’s parents, Laten and Alice Reaves, and brother, Cameron also work supporting important aspects of the Reaves family seafood businesses.

When asked about his role at Sea Eagle, Craig said with a laugh, “I wear a lot of hats. I’m a commercial fisherman — shrimper, oysterman, crabber — caterer, salesman, and just do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Jana mainly keeps the office running, but you can also see her smiling face at catering events, festivals, and occasionally up front in the market. Craig and Jana met at one of the Reaves Family Restaurants in 1991 and were married in a Reaves Family Restaurant on Harbor Island in 1992.  Craig first heard about Jana when she and her friend Amy applied for a job at the Reaves Family Restaurant in Holden Beach, N.C. While Craig was looking over applications, he came across her name and said, “What is a Jana? Call her.” And the rest is history.

Craig and Jana have raised three children in Beaufort: Melena Argetsinger, 22; CJ Reaves, 20; and Molleigh Reaves 5.

Says Jana, “In addition, we have been blessed to have a couple of other young people in our lives. Brandon Wells came into our lives when he was just 13; and now he is 21 and running his own shrimp boat. Michael Evans has been a part of our family off and on since he was 4. He is now 19 and in his second year at West Point.”

Craig, daughter Melena and Ted Baker have come together to form Smokin Sea Eagle Competition BBQ Cook Team, traveling the state competing in barbecue competitions. “We like to compete in cooking challenges,” Craig said. Their hard work and talents have paid off.  They won the Beaufort Shrimp Festival’s Silver Cup in 2011 and best dessert at the Yemassee Shrimp Festival in 2012, and recently won first place in Pulled Pork at the 2013 Hilton Head Island Rib Burn Off.

Currently, Craig is serving on the board of directors for the South Carolina Seafood Alliance. He said, “The South Carolina Seafood Alliance has been working hard with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to help keep South Carolina Seafood in South Carolina.”

Says Craig, “Our newest venture is our CSF, or Community Supported Fishery. This is an opportunity for our community to support local fishermen. The fishing community has struggled for the last 10 to 12 years and now we want to give our consumers an opportunity to help save the seafood industry in South Carolina.  By supporting the CSF you will be giving local fishermen a hand up so they can go and catch the freshest seafood for you.”

The Community Supported Fishery saves money and helps save local fishing heritage CSF members pre-pay for a “season” of freshly caught seafood. In return, Sea Eagle Market provides a weekly share of premium, locally caught, seasonal fish, shrimp and/or shellfish that the member picks up at the store. Members can save up to $180 with the silver program and up to $360 with the gold program. The first cycle begins October 1, so sign up before September 21 to join the fall CSF season at seaeaglemarket.com.

Craig said, “We are proud to say we are creating jobs, putting people to work in hard economic times. We can only do this as a result of our community supporting us. Again, we say thank you!”

He adds, “We have all called Beaufort home for 21 years. Beaufort is a very special place for us. It’s full of great people with great stories. We feel blessed to be able to do what we love, commercial fishing, to make a living just like generations before us.”

Beaufort is similarly blessed to have the Reaves family and their employees, working hard daily to provide fresh locally caught seafood to the community.

Sea Eagle Market, located at 2242 Boundary Street, is a full-service, wholesale and retail seafood market open six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Stop by and say hi to Tony at C.J. Seafood Express located next to Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop at 1421 Ribaut Road in Port Royal. It’s also open six days a week, selling fresh seafood from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday
through Saturday.

Sea Eagle Catering also does local oyster roasts for $10 per person (25 people minimum). It includes roasted local oysters, knives, hand towels, crackers, sauces, tables, and shell removal.  They have a certified cook trailer, so they can provide you with whatever you need for your event, from seafood to barbecue.  They also clean your fish to order at no additional charge at the Sea Eagle Market location. For more information, please call 843-521-5090 or visit them online at  seaeaglemarket.com.

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