Chula Highlights Seafood & Sustainability

People are often surprised that fresh seafood can be found in the desert. Chula Seafood brings fresh seafood from San Diego to Arizona several times a week in its fleet of refrigerated vans. The seafood is delivered to Chula’s North Scottsdale warehouse for processing and cutting, and then delivered to Chula’s three retail locations and restaurant customers. Chula provides fresh seafood to more than 60 Valley restaurants, including Bacanora, Valentine, Hush Public House, and Aftermath.

“People don’t realize how close Arizona is to the ocean. Fresh seafood can be here in five hours,” said Mandy Heflin, one of the owners and co-founder of Chula’s Arizona operations. The Heflin family has had a commercial fishing boat in San Diego for 25 years. In 2015, the family recognized the need for fresh seafood in the desert and began delivering straight from the boat to Arizona. This led to the opening of Chula’s first seafood market and restaurant in South Scottsdale in 2016, followed by locations in Central Phoenix in 2019 and North Scottsdale in 2022. These locations offer markets with fresh seafood that consumers can take home, as well as a variety of meals that can be enjoyed in the restaurant.  

Chula is especially proud of its culinary team’s creativity. “Our chefs have a blank canvas of beautiful fresh fish to work with and have come up with unique dishes like swordfish Bolognese and Thai swordfish sausage, which won the 2023 Devour Culinary Classic,” Heflin said. “Our daily features in our restaurants give our chefs the freedom to create.” 

Bestsellers on Chula’s menu include fish and chips, green chile tuna melt, and poke bowls. Popular items in their markets include salmon, swordfish, scallops and halibut. 

With three restaurants, a warehouse and drivers, Chula Seafood employs more than 100 people in Arizona. “We want to make sure our team is happy and we are all focused on the same goal to provide the best seafood, the best customer service and best dining experience,” Heflin said. 

Sustainability is another key to Chula’s success. “Sustainability is ingrained in our business in so many ways, starting with sustainable fishing, which correlates to ocean preservation for future generations,” Heflin said. “We repurpose all parts from the animal to create dishes. We also practice sustainability in our restaurant operations.”

Chula continues to build its local presence. “We built our business by providing fresh seafood to the desert and filling a market need,” Heflin said. “We want to give our customers the quality they deserve and make sure our seafood is as fresh as possible. We pride ourselves on educating retail and wholesale customers on different species and what’s available. The collaboration between our wholesale and retail presence has helped us grow and become a trusted seafood purveyor.”

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About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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