by Scott Ashton
Nestled in the quaint Cape Cod style village of the Oceanside Harbor is one of the community’s treasured establishments, Harbor Fish and Chips. Terry Cross, owner, will tell you that
there is no one in Oceanside more passionate about fish than he is.
Cross was born at Oceanside General Hospital and raised in the same Oceanside home his entire childhood. His dad taught him deer hunting and fishing; and his father-in-law,
Doug McWha taught him how to run a commercial fishing boat when Cross was 20 years old.
Cross’s mother-in-law, Sally McWha started the Harbor Fish Market in 1964. Cross started working at Harbor Fish Market in 1968 and said he loved the job so much and “couldn’t
get enough of it.” He and his high school sweetheart, Sue McWha married in 1969. The Harbor Fish Market started serving fish and chips in 1970, and it was an instant success.
Due to this success, Sally moved the Fish and Chips to the other side of the Cape Cod Village to the current location in 1972. When Harbor Fish and Chips first opened, it was one of very few restaurants in the Oceanside harbor.
Terry and Sue became the sole owners of Harbor Fish and Chips in 1982, and since then, their restaurant has “blossomed, just like Oceanside.”
Leaving the commercial fishing business to focus entirely on the restaurant, brought long days of work, but allowed Terry to spend more time with his family. The restaurant provided first jobs for both of his daughters. While he had to learn to be both a boss and a dad to the girls, the lessons for his daughters were valuable as well. According to Terry, the most important thing he taught his daughters about the business was “look the customer in the eyes, tell the truth, and give a firm handshake”. And the golden rule is – “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t sell it.”
Cross’s right hand man, Chris Jones, has worked at the restaurant for 14 years and is also a lifelong Oceanside resident with strong family ties to the harbor. His family owned the local bait company with a fleet of boats and the first diner in the Oceanside Harbor, the Dolphin Inn.
While tourism season is a booming time for Harbor Fish and Chips, it’s the “locals that keep us alive”, according to Terry. We also receive great support from our local troops at neighboring Camp Pendleton.
Both Cross and Jones are always looking for ways to improve the business. “If you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind”, said Terry. They are currently working on improvements to the
“I still look forward to coming to work every day. It’s an exciting place to be.”