The most important message I took away from my first two visits to 20 Feet Seafood Joint was clear: get there early. On previous visits, I’d arrived around 7 pm and found myself standing in a long line. Even though the line to the counter where you place your order moves fast, there is no guarantee that a seat will be waiting for you after you pay. It is most certainly a joint, a self-service, BYOB restaurant with no frills. There are only 50 seats inside and another 24 on the front porch.
My eating team and I arrived for my last visit at 6:15 pm on a Friday night. The wait to order was short, but all of the seats in the dining room were taken. Co-owner and chef Marc Cassel was hustling through the area, delivering plates and baskets of food. On one run, he attempted to slip between two chairs just as one of the patrons pushed back. Cassel lurched forward and stutter-stepped to regain his balance. As if on cue, the music changed from Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” I watched Cassel apologize to his guests as Dylan wailed: “Once upon a time you dressed so fine.” I could not have choreographed the moment better.