The fried seafood restaurant is ‘Till Off The Hook’

NEW HAVEN – In addition to knowing very well its way around a deep fryer and the spices that go into fried shrimp, scallops or fried fish, Paul Hill, owner of the new Always off the hook The seafood restaurant in the Amity section is nothing if not persistent.

It should.

For several years, Hill, 47, owned and operated Off The Hook restaurants in a few locations along Dixwell Avenue in Hamden. He closed the last one a few years ago.

But now he’s back with a new restaurant in the Whalley Commons Mall. It’s in the corner storefront that was once the pop-up Koreana restaurant and before that The Thai Restaurant, in the mall that also houses Walgreens and a post office.

And he’s set to open more establishments that will spread his love of crispy seafood in Bridgeport, Middletown and Waterbury.

Paul Hill, owner of Still Off The Hook, prepares an order of fried shrimp and fries at Whalley Avenue restaurant in New Haven on April 28, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

“I want people to see me as a guy who took his chances and got it,” said Hill, who grew up in the Newhallville section of town, noting that “during the Great Depression millionaires were found”.

While all of his past endeavors haven’t lasted, “You’re not a boss until you’ve suffered a loss,” Hill said, saying to himself “a 47-year-old man who thirsts for success.” .

He’s making big strides now because “I like challenges,” he said. “I am a high risk taker.”

He also has longer-term plans, although he calls the restaurant business a “very difficult industry”.

“My dream and my goal will be to become a mentor and a franchise,” he said.

Hill, who heard about fried seafood years ago as an employee of Kevin’s Seafood in New Haven, said Always off the hook may not be the only fried seafood restaurant in New Haven “but I’m the most unique”.

“What makes me unique are my sauces – my garlic parm, my General Tso,” he said.

Still Off The Hook also serves a Lobster Egg Roll which is a mix of two Connecticut classics, Lobster Rolls and Chinese Egg Rolls.

An order of fried shrimp and fries pictured at Still Off The Hookon Whalley Avenue in New Haven on April 28, 2021.

An order of fried shrimp and fries pictured at Still Off The Hookon Whalley Avenue in New Haven on April 28, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Her food is available to eat in, take out, or deliver from Seamless, Grubhub, and DoorDash. Hill hopes to add outdoor seating soon. Lately, business has been split roughly 50-50 between on-site dining, take-out and delivery, he said.

The New Haven restaurant opened its doors last fall. The restaurants in Bridgeport, Middletown and Waterbury are all fully approved and set to open as soon as Hill can muster staff for them, he said.

The Bridgeport Still Off The Hook will be located at 75 Fairview Avenue, near St. Vincent Medical Center. The Middletown Restaurant will be located at 102 Court Street. The Waterbury Still Off The Hook will be located at 21 East Farm Street, he said.

If you go to the New Haven restaurant, chances are good that “chef” Jeff Simuel will cook for you if Hill doesn’t do it himself. Simuel has 15 years of experience, notably at Chowder Pot, Chili’s and TGI Fridays, among others.

What’s her secret to making great fried seafood?

“Love,” Simuel said. “I put love in food.”

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