He’s Operated a Local Fish Shack for 40 Years. Now He’s Struggling to Stay Afloat

Each weekend, Greg Brummet sells salmon from his mobile Samnzar Smoke Shack along Bodega Highway. Since the pandemic, though, he’s struggled to keep going.

Greg Brummet may not be a familiar name in Sonoma County, but chances are locals have seen his hand-painted pipe-smoking fish sign and mobile fish “hut.”

For 40 years, Brummet has operated Samnzar Smoke Shack, a one-man smoked fish operation, along the roadside in west Sonoma County. Each weekend, he pulls his covered pickup into a small turnout along Bodega Highway, among the old apple orchards. From this humble location, he sells salmon to longtime customers and curious passersby.

Since the pandemic, though, he’s struggled to keep going, he said. Recently, a friend set up a GoFundMe page to help pay the rent at the location where Brummet fillets, smokes and packages his salmon — increasingly expensive salmon.

“At $9 a pound, I got myself into debt. I’m recovering, but I need anything to keep it afloat. I don’t need a six-pack of beer. This money will go for something related to the business,” he said.

At 79 years old, Brummet doesn’t mince words.

“COVID knocked the hell out of things. After two years of that, I’m bouncing back a little bit, and it’s warmed me up to see people being together again,” he said.

Like many who came to Sonoma County in the early 1970s, when it was primarily a sleepy agricultural community, Brummet loved the simple lifestyle and characters who made the west county their home. For decades, he took classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and sold his smoked fish along the Russian River and on Highway one near Goat Rock.

“I just got drawn here, and it was great. At the time, I paid $17 for my fishing license. Now everything costs so much to live here,” he said.

Brummet hopes the GoFundMe for his Samnzar Smoke Shack will help him pay back money he borrowed to keep the business afloat for a little longer.

“After 40 years on the road, it’s wearing thin. But I want to keep doing it until my body gives out. But I’m gonna go down smiling and being generous,” he said.

To contribute to Brummet’s fundraiser, go to bit.ly/3YpZigL.