What Happened To Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry After Shark Tank?

While some of the entrepreneurs on "Shark Tank" make a big splash after they enter the Tank, others flounder. Fans of the show sometimes wonder what happens to their favorites — for instance, Season 9's Joe Dowell III and his wife, Maranda, owners of Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry.

Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry had two restaurants located in New Orleans, Louisiana, when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. The restaurants were casualties of the storm that killed 1,392 people and caused $108 billion in damages to buildings, houses, and the city's infrastructure. Joe Dowell II and his son, Joe Dowell III, took their two remaining air fryers and began touring the country and hitting festivals, concerts, and anywhere else they could sell the product. When Daymond John asked Joe and Maranda how long they did that, he's surprised when Joe tells him 15 years and, "I've got some fryers in the car right now. I'm still frying fish."

The Sharks loved Maranda and Joe Dowell's positive energy and their product, but most were hesitant due to Joe's father having invested his whole savings in the business and already owning 85% of the company. The fact that they valued their company at $1 million also made the Sharks reluctant, especially Kevin O'Leary, who told Joe that he wasn't worth $1 million. In the end, only one Shark was willing to make a deal.

Going for a dip with the Sharks

The Dowells asked for $150,000 for 15% of their business, Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry, a special breading developed by Joe that was used on the fried fish and shrimp that he sold through his catering business and events around the Southeast. The product is notable because it's designed to absorb less oil, giving your fish, shrimp, chicken, or veggies a nice savory crunch while still allowing the natural flavor to shine through.

The Dowells had already established a pretty good base by the time they appeared on "Shark Tank." At the time of the taping, they were celebrating their seventh week in Walmart stores. The breading mix was also for sale in a selection of Atlanta-area and Southeast grocery stores including H-E-B, Publix Super Markets, Kroger, Meijer, and Winn-Dixie. But their numbers were still low. Despite their wide distribution network, their lifetime sales were lagging around $409,000. But Daymond John saw what they were doing and had admiration for their feet-on-the-ground approach; he offered them $150,000 for 25% of the business. Maranda briefly suggested 18% but backed down quickly, and the couple accepted John's offer. "He went all-in, and we are so grateful for it," Maranda said in their post-episode interview.

They used the Shark Tank Effect to increase their business

Despite the offer from Daymond John, the deal apparently never closed. However, these spirited entrepreneurs appeared to be doing fine on their own. In an interview with Black Enterprise, Joe and Maranda Dowell talked about life after being on "Shark Tank." "The orders have been pouring into our website," they said. "It has been overwhelming support! People have responded to us and it has changed the trajectory of our business!" They were excited to grow their brand with new products, brick-and-mortar locations, and increase the number of stores selling their product.

Their first new product after their "Shark Tank" appearance was a gluten-free fish fry mix, which they introduced to the world with an appearance on "Good Morning America" in May 2018. By August, Joe's Gourmet had announced in a Facebook post that it was attending a meeting at QVC, and the following year the Dowells appeared on QVC selling frozen Southern fried shrimp breaded with Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry. The fried shrimp was so popular that it was available in grocery stores throughout the Midwest, South, and Southeast. By October of that year, Joe's Gourmet announced that its fish fry mix was being used in Stop & Shop's seafood department fry program. Joe's Gourmet was on a mission, and by the end of 2018, its products were being sold in more than 2,500 grocery stores.

They moved into franchising

The Dowells currently have a restaurant location – a Joe's Gourmet Fish and Chicken in Lithia Springs, Georgia, that opened in in 2019. A second location opened in College Park in 2021, but it appears to be closed. Both locations were inside Walmart stores. In 2021, Joe's Gourmet announced that they were teaming up with Walmart to offer entrepreneurs the chance to open their own Joe's Gourmet franchise inside Walmart.

"It's a great opportunity because Walmart has a lot of [foot] traffic, and I think for us to be able to take advantage of partnering with such a large company, [it's] by putting your store inside of theirs," Maranda Dowell told Black Enterprise. "You know, it's a company that we've supported for so long, and now we actually get to participate in what they've created, so I think it's a great opportunity for us to have." It's not clear how many franchises there are out there, but there is a link on the Joe's Gourmet website that gives details for those interested.

What's next for Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry?

Some sources list Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry's annual revenue at $5 million in August 2022, but the past year may have seen things slow down a bit for Joe's Gourmet Fish Fry. The couple have appeared together or separately at different events — in 2022, Maranda Dowell was a speaker at a VoxMedia and PayPal event about growing your small business, and Joe Dowell appeared at the "Shark Tank" reunion in Las Vegas in July 2023. But while there are still plenty of posts promoting its fish fry mix, many of its social media posts from 2023 have been focused more on friends and family, with the last product sale promotion appearing for 2022's Black Friday.

Earlier this year fans have asked about its website not allowing them to order, and also asked when the restaurant will reopen, to which Joe's Gourmet hasn't responded. At the moment, the ordering page on Joe's Gourmet says that all items are sold out, and its Amazon page and Walmart also say the products are unavailable or out of stock. It's unclear what the future holds for Joe's Gourmet or what its plans are, but we hope there's an update soon.