One of the three brothers who own and operate an iconic fish market on Portland’s waterfront has died, following a long struggle with cancer.

Benjamin A. Alfiero, 59, of Scarborough, died Monday, his family said.

Alfiero and his brothers, Nick Alfiero and Mike Alfiero, have been involved in the operation of the Harbor Fish Market since their father Ben Alfiero Sr. founded the business in 1969.

For years, Benjamin A. Alfiero ran the retail store for Harbor Fish Market, which is located at 9 Custom House Wharf on the city’s waterfront.

“He was the face of the business in a lot of ways,” said his younger brother, Mike Alfiero. “Ben became a local celebrity.”

Alfiero was born and raised in Portland, the son of Benjamin and Gloria Alfiero.


He attended Portland schools and graduated from Portland High School.

He joined the business as a teenager and never lost interest.

“We grew up doing every aspect of the entire operation, from cutting fish to sweeping floors,” Mike Alfiero said.

In the 1990s, when their father retired, the three brothers took over.

“We were brothers in arms,” Alfiero said.

“We had our moments, but we all prevailed because we were brothers first.”


“I think for us, family always came first and the business second,” Nick Alfiero, the oldest brother, added. “Because of that our business thrived.”

The company now employs 43 people, many of whom have worked at Harbor Fish Market for years.

“In a small way, Harbor Fish Market has made Portland a more interesting place to live. We’ve not only provided good food and service to a lot of restaurants, but we’ve helped make Portland a foodie town,” Mike Alfiero said.

Mike Alfiero said that because his brother ran the retail store, more people knew him and associated him with the market.

“Ben was the face of Harbor Fish,” Nick added.

Over the years, Harbor Fish has become a destination for tourists and locals alike. Many people come to see the retail store’s 50 linear feet of display showcases with fish, seafood and thousands of pounds of lobsters.


“Through our retail store, we developed many loyal, long term customers,” Mike Alfiero said. “They think of our business as something special.”

The front of the Harbor Fish Market has been photographed and painted so many times that in the mid-1990s the family had the image trademarked.

Celebrity chef Julia Child visited once, as did several stars, including singer Billy Joel, and actor Patrick Dempsey.

In 2013, the Alfieros published their first cookbook, titled “Harbor Fish Market”. The book is filled with tips on buying, storing and cooking seafood as well as Nick’s recipe for lobster shortcake.

The Alfieros say their workers remain the backbone of their business.

“It’s a great place to work because they treat you like family,” said Mike Verrill of Westbrook. Verrill, who has worked at Harbor Fish Market for 26 years, is a foreman in the retail operation. “I felt like Ben was my brother. We had good times together. It was fun go to work.”


Dan Kraus, Harbor Fish Market’s general manager, has worked there for 12 years. He said Ben Alfiero mentored him, supported him, and guided him through some of life’s challenges.

“It was one of the greatest pleasures I’ve ever experienced in my life, to be able to work for a man who was my boss. He was like a father to me,” Kraus said.

Due to his failing health, Ben stopped working at the fish market last year.

His family is planning a celebration of life for this Sunday, Nov. 22, at the Ocean Gateway on Commercial Street.

The event, which will run from noon to 4 p.m., is open to the public.

Alfiero is survived by his wife, Robyn Alfiero. They got married in 1977. His father, Ben Alfiero Sr., died in 2008.

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