This edition’s business spotlight is on the Ward family of 13 Mile Seafood. Their retail seafood operation is located right on the Apalachicola River in the heart of downtown. You’ll find fresh fish, shrimp straight off the boat, smoked fish, delicious dips, sauces, and merchandise with their iconic logo. The interesting history of their family seafood business can be found on their website:
What is 13 Mile? Many people ask about our name. It refers to a tiny community 13 miles west of Apalachicola where Olan Buddy Ward and Martha Pearl Ward began the family business in 1957. Back in those days there were little communities along the shore of Apalachicola Bay at 7, 9, 11 and 13 miles west of town. Martha Pearl’s family – the Millers – had a small oyster and fish house right on the bay, and many of the nearby families worked there.
Olan Buddy Ward was a strong, tall man with an iron handshake; he looked others in the eye and lived his life by making his word a bond others could count on. Buddy instilled these traits into his five boys. (Olan, Dakie, George, Tommy, and Joey). Buddy and Martha Pearl were married for more than 50 years, until he passed away in 2006.
The Ward family is very close. Some people say blood is thicker than water, but if you are a Ward you know that blood is thicker than molasses. This closeness is due to the way Buddy was raised. His father was a tug boat captain on the Apalachicola River during the Depression and times were tough. Many people turned up their noses at the people that worked the waters surrounding Apalachicola. But growing up poor taught Buddy how to work, and he worked hard his whole life. He taught that ethic to his boys and they have never stopped.
Now Buddy’s granddaughter Sara and grandsons T.J. and Walter Mack are part of the business, too.
If you stop by the 13 Mile oyster house today you might get to see a pair of eagles or a school of porpoise chasing mullet by the dock. Around evening you’d get to watch the sunset on an unspoiled part of Florida that looks just like it did 500 years ago: no houses or cars, just the old oak trees of St. Vincent Island and the big sky stretching out over the Gulf.
The Ward family continues the tradition. Come see for yourself. The Buddy Ward & Sons Seafood Market is located at 227 Water Street in historic Apalachicola, right next to Riverfront Park.
Phone: (850) 653-1399