Above: The Codmother Co-owner Madeleine Galletti in business; Madeleine owns The Codmother with her husband, Pedro
When Madeleine Galletti moved to San Francisco from England thirty years ago, she fell in love with the city. “I came to San Francisco to be a nanny,” she shares. “I come from the Isle of Wight, an island off the South Coast of England. When I came to San Francisco, one of the places I loved of course was Fisherman’s Wharf. You can see sailboats, it’s very much like the island where I grew up. I feel at home here.”
The love for her adopted city is translated into The Codmother, a fish and chips eatery near Fisherman’s Wharf which Madeleine has owned with her husband Pedro Galletti for four years.
“Fish and chips go very well with an English person and everybody loves that it’s owned by an English person,” laughs Madeleine. “We bought it from the previous owner Suzanne who set it up and founded The Codmother. It’s got a great name in San Francisco.”
In addition to classic crispy fish, The Codmother offers not-so-traditional shrimp tacos covered in a generous helping of their now famous Baja sauce.
“Susanne who is also British had actually been a tour guide in San Francisco working for Big Bus. She loved fish and chips, but was frustrated that everything at Fisherman’s Wharf was so expensive, so she wanted to found something cheaper than the big restaurants at the front of the Wharf. So, it’s out of a trailer and it’s still out of a trailer,” says Madeleine.
This locale turned out to be a surprising boon when Covid hit the city. “The great part about it, which we didn’t realize at the time is that we’ve got an outdoor patio. It brings people because they know they can come and sit outside and we’ve got plenty of space, Madeleine explains. “We’ve added more tables on the side so everybody can eat out there and stay six feet apart from everybody else. It’s actually really worked in our favor.”
But like all businesses, Covid still had a huge effect on The Codmother. They were hit hard in the beginning and had to close for two months in March and April.
Madeleine and her husband didn’t even go down to the area while quarantining. When they did, Madeleine says it looked like it had been deserted. “I looked at my husband and said, ‘We’ve gotta come back down and make this work.’”
In order to help re-open, Madeleine and her husband hired a social media manager to take drone videos of The Codmother, The Wharf, and to reach out to locals who were thrilled to have an inexpensive and friendly spot in the area to enjoy outdoor dining.
Madeleine now stays on-site every day, greeting customers with her engaging chatty banter. Madeleine is truly a people person and her warmth has made The Codmother a welcome spot in difficult times, not unlike the cheer of a local British pub.
“I chat with everyone who comes in and I always ask where they’re from because we used to get so many tourists. Now they all look at me like, ‘I’m from here.’ And that’s great because we get to know our locals and they are our new customer base coming in every other day or once a week,” she shares.
This laid-back and unpretentious atmosphere combined with delicious fried food fare and meticulous health safety measures is helping the neighborhood heal.
“Slowly but surely our sales are going back up and we’re breaking even. You’ve got to be inventive and creative.”
Stop by The Codmother today to see the creativity for yourself!