A passion for fresh seafood and a dream of opening their own restaurant inspired Brad and Ping Aplin to open Bluewater Seafood in 1996. Over the last 25 years, Bluewater has grown to three locations in the Houston area, serving up Louisiana Cajun seafood.
Being near the water always came naturally to Brad, a third-generation fisherman, which eventually led him to meet Ping.
"We originally met in China. I was from a small fishing village and my husband went there to help his friend operate his seafood company,” Ping said. “Since we had the connections to get fresh seafood, that led us to open the first Bluewater in 1996."
For the 25th anniversary of Bluewater Seafood, the family will host an event to celebrate from Dec. 10-12 with live music happening Friday and Saturday night at the original Bluewater location located at 6107 FM 1960 W., Houston.
“We are going to be doing live music, balloon animals for the kids, prize wheels and special merchandise,” Breeana said.
Bluewater Seafood has truly become a family-run restaurant—the Aplin children, Breeana and Brawder, are celebrating their 1-year anniversary of working at the restaurants. Breeana is the marketing manager for the restaurants while Brawder is the head chef and culinary coordinator.
“Bluewater is a unique experience and people return here because of the great food, the great atmosphere, and it still feels like home somehow even though it is a restaurant. A lot of people have good positive memories here. We have so many regular customers,” Breeana said.
Following Brad's death, his wife and children have carried on his legacy and are keeping his memory alive in the community through Bluewater. Their children are involved in the day-to-day operations, allowing Ping to focus more on the team and the future of Bluewater.
“Since my dad’s death in 2017 it has been my mom’s transition to the front of the house,” Breeana said. “Prior to his death, she was always back cooking. She is now very involved in the local community.”
Ping said she tells all their cooks to cook from the heart, like they would for family or friends.
“I am really happy when I walk through the dining room and I see people happy eating our food,” Ping said.
People always ask Ping what her favorite item on the menu is, and she said it is hard to pick one since the food holds a lot of special memories to her. Many of the recipes are influenced from family.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite menu item because we would never sell anything we don’t personally enjoy,” Breeana said. “Everything is made from scratch with our own family recipes. Our menu is very personal to us.”
When it comes to the decor in the restaurants, Ping said it holds a special meaning to her family.
“My husband wanted people to walk in and feel like they are at a restaurant by the water. We handpick all of our decor so you feel like you are on vacation,” Ping said.
While the pandemic affected many restaurants, Bluewater remained strong due to one thing: loyal customers.
“We are still here today because of our loyal customers. They supported us during the pandemic and we wouldn’t be here without them,” Ping said. “We are so integrated with the community and have so many loyal customers who would still order with us."
While the Aplins are not sure about the exact location of the next Bluewater, there will be more in the future.
“If it wasn’t for 2020 or the pandemic, we would already have Bluewater 4. That is what my husband wanted. He wanted more Bluewaters. Now it is perfect because my kids have come back to help me,” Ping said.
Breeana said the tradition of treating every customer like family is a key to their success.
“What keeps our customers coming back is the fresh food, the atmosphere, and our customer service,” she said. “We have a motto, ‘Team Blue’ which means to treat everyone like they are family.”
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