By Alessia Grunberger
Tucked away on a quiet street on Berwyn Road, Fishnet, an award-winning seafood restaurant, creates a charming and peaceful ambiance where customers could enjoy fresh fish sandwiches, vegan falafels and other Mediterranean-style dishes.
With his fresh food and unique flavors, Istanbul native and Fishnet owner Ferhat Yalci hopes customers will get a sense of Turkey’s “fish and bread,” a street food that he enjoyed throughout his childhood.
Despite receiving rave reviews from The Washington Post and The Washingtonian, and high ratings in Zagat 2014, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is better known to local residents in the Berwyn community than to University of Maryland students.
“Seventy to 75 percent of customers are local people, and 20 to 25 percent are students and professors,” Yalci said. “When you target the students alone, I don’t think that business is going to be as successful because, at the end, every student is going to be leaving here, but local people are here all the time.”
For almost the first two years of the restaurant’s opening, Yalci did not advertise Fishnet. To him, word of mouth was the best kind of advertisement the restaurant could get.
“I have never heard about Fishnet before,” Brigette Fine, a junior at the University of Maryland, said. I usually know about a lot of restaurants around College Park because of advertisements, and I usually end up going to the restaurants and trying the food.”
Unfortunately, word of mouth was not an effective advertising tactic, Yalci said. This year, The Diamondback featured a Fishnet advertisement; the restaurant also used Facebook and Twitter to boost sales.
Yalci frequently updates Fishnet’s Facebook and Twitter pages with statuses about delivery options and the restaurant’s hours, along with pictures of craft beers and the employees preparing the dishes. Yalci said he gets good feedback from social media because followers also post pictures and updates.
“I just had the fish and chips – which is probably pretty unhealthy, but very good,” Joe Vignola, an engineering professor at Catholic University of America, said. “It’s nice to have a place that serves the inner community.
“I am drawn to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and this place doesn’t look like all the new restaurants on Route 1.”
“They really get their fish fresh and they work hard to get their fish locally,“ College Park Councilman Patrick Wojahn said. “It’s nice to have a restaurant in College Park that we can call our own and talk about with pride about how we have great restaurants like Fishnet.”
Yalci is looking to open a coffee shop next to the restaurant this year, according to official reports from the City of College Park.