There are fast food drive-thrus, bank drive-thrus, and even drive-thru wedding chapels in Las Vegas, but a drive-thru fresh fish market? Why not?

When Rick and Alicia Tharp first met while working at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, they never dreamed they’d be owning and operating a fish market, never mind a drive-thru fish market.

Rick, a former commercial fisherman, courted Alicia with a fishing pole, some snacks and a fishing date on an inflatable raft. Within minutes of casting the line, they had a bite. Well, bite might be an understatement. As they reeled in their catch, Rick soon realized that they had hooked a large shark—bigger than their tiny raft. Channeling Roy Scheider in “Jaws,” he yelled “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.!” Level heads prevailed when Alicia yelled “Cut the line!” Rick did, then paddled the raft furiously back to shore.

Three years later they married, and when they decided to start their own seafood business, Rick’s years as a fisherman and the connections he had made paid off because he gets his fresh fish right off the fishing boats up and down the coast.

They started small and for 12 years sold their fish at Ojai’s weekly farmers’ market, but when a drive-thru shack became available in 2010, they decided to go for it and opened Ideal Seafood. The fish is so fresh, so delicious and very reasonably priced. This is a real mom and pop operation, with the second generation, their daughter Brittany, working alongside them. They even smoke their own “ready to eat” salmon, trout and bass and it’s some of the best in the Valley.

Whether Alicia serves their scrumptious smoked salmon or calamari salad at Taste of Ojai, take a taste as you walk-thru… you’ll be hooked!

By: Ilona Saari

Ideal Seafood
11512 N. Ventura Ave.
Ojai, CA 93023