Hometown Heroes: Jimmy Cantu

Jimmy Cantu.

Investing energy and support into his community feels as organic to Jimmy Cantu as the sun rising and setting each day, because there is a beautiful balance to it. “When you live in and work in the same community, it just seems natural to give back to it,” said Cantu, 48. “When you see the needs of others, it’s just right to help in any way that you can.”

As the owner of Pier 36 Seafood & Oyster Bar in both Richmond and Fulshear, Cantu’s face is a welcomed and familiar one. The Richmond restaurant has been in operation for 13 years, the sister site in Fulshear for nearly two years, and at both locations, customers flock to fill their bellies with delectable dishes.

Building a career in the hospitality industry stemmed from his childhood, Cantu shared, recalling the time in his youth when his parents owned a restaurant. “That’s when I started to love cooking and experimenting with food,” he said with a chuckle. “And well, I had the perfect place to do that.”

That passion that sparked when he was a boy continued well into his college years at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. “And of course,” Cantu added, “I worked at restaurants while in college.” So, after graduating it was no wonder the proud “born-and-raised” Richmond native returned to his hometown with the degree and expertise to serve the community with his culinary talents.

The Cantu Family: Ann, Bella and Jimmy.

While folks eagerly rave over his menu, Cantu is also known for his efforts beyond running Pier 36 Seafood & Oyster Bar. From sponsoring Little League teams and donating funds and time to causes, Cantu, who now lives in Sugar Land with his wife Ann, is well-respected as a conscious contributor to his community.

He is not boastful when he speaks of the contributions he has made, but there is a note of pride in his voice. “I give back in a multitude of ways,” he said, naming off some of his efforts, like being involved with the Lamar Education Awards Foundation, being a member of the Richmond Rotary Club, serving on the board of AccessHealth and being a member of the Central Fort Bend Chamber and Fulshear Katy Area Chamber of Commerce. “And through my wife, who is with Lamar Consolidated ISD, I get involved with anything and everything from school events to fundraising,” he said.

Just as he serves the customers who come looking for a satisfying meal, Cantu said serving the Fort Bend community is a priority of his. And while he never desired a pay off or recognition for his contributions, Cantu’s efforts in the community returned to him tenfold when the coronavirus pandemic hit the county in March.

“When you put in interest and love into your community, it does come back,” Cantu said, gratitude heavy in his voice. “And it can come back in unexpected ways and unexpected times.”

When the stay-at-home mandates were ordered across the state, Cantu admits there were many sleepless nights that plagued him. It was not just the survival of his business and his livelihood that deeply worried him, but also of his 60 plus employees who were also depending on him.

“I was trying to keep calm and be the leader they needed me to be. I was reassuring everyone that if we kept our heads down, kept working hard and doing what we always do, we would be okay.

“And then, we had this overwhelming response of support from the community,” he said, his voice rich with emotion. “This has been a terrifying and an extraordinary time. For me the continual support of the customers through the pandemic proves that if you show genuine concern for your community and truly help those who need it, your impact will go a long way. When you rally behind a cause, when you reach out to the people who need your help, in some way, at some time, they will reach back.”

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13115 Southwest Freewa    Sugar Land, TX 77478
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