Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, a beach-grown restaurant and oyster farm that’s swimming in rave reviews, recently expanded their small oyster bar into a full-fledged restaurant. With more seating, a full kitchen, and a view of their oyster farm less than a mile away, the change has been fantastic for staff and customers alike.
Run by father-son duo Steve and Mark Seymour, Drayton Harbor Oyster Company offers a deliciously oyster-focused menu, with oysters raw, grilled, and stewed. In time, they plan to expand the menu even further.
The new look has an “old” feel. The expansion is part of a brand new site in downtown Blaine, where a vacant 100-year-old building formerly stood. Between the antique nautical look and wood restored from the original building, it’s hard to guess this is a recently constructed space.
The remodel is a culmination of many years of growth. Drayton Harbor Oyster Company began in 1985 as a non-profit oyster farming operation, closed for many years because of poor harbor water quality, and then re-opened after original co-owner Geoff Menzies worked relentlessly with agencies for years to help clean it up.
Running an eatery had never been the plan. They originally grew seed from the marina and planned to sell it wholesale, until locals consistently came to buy their product. It snowballed from there and eventually into an oyster bar in a corner shop on Peace Portal Drive, which opened in February of 2015.
“All the locals really support us,” says restaurant manager Becky Bisson. “They’re excited that Mark and Steve have brought it back to the community. That whole vibe has really trickled down…they realized what a gem of a hole-in-the-wall it was.”
The bar eventually grew too large for its small place. Explosive popularity and stellar reviews led to long line-ups, and they eventually got a permit to grill on the sidewalk and provide outdoor seating. With no kitchen, it was impossible to fit additional staff or expand the menu.
“All we could do was grill oysters on the sidewalk,” says Bisson.
Developer Peter Gigante would later buy the 100-year old building next to the bar. Gigante wanted it to house something local, and after trying Steve’s grilled oysters at a farmer’s market in Fairhaven, asked Steve if he’d like to lease out space.
It was a match made in heaven, Bisson says.
The project went on for nearly three years. Now, Drayton Harbor Oyster Company has restaurant space, a hood fan, and a full kitchen; they can seat more customers and help their staff.
“We’re trying to add to the menu without adding too much stress on the [current] staff, because we’re still adjusting to this bigger space and actual kitchen,” says Bisson. “Everybody’s asking when we’re going to have a full menu; people want more seafood. But we’re just trying to take baby steps.”
Bisson said some regulars initially had mixed feelings about the change, because everyone loved the previous oyster bar’s ambience.
“[Some of our] customers felt like we couldn’t transfer that vibe into such a bigger space. [But] I knew Mark and Steve’s vision, she says. “You walk in, and I think they nailed it—it feels the same, with just a bit more space. All our staff members are having fun and that really transfers over to the customer.”
Every staff member also works on the farm, so they have a strong knowledge base. They can talk to customers about where their oysters come from. In turn, they get a connection with the farmers, like any other farm-to-table. It’s not just food, Bisson says, it’s the experience.
You can even see the farm three quarters of a mile from the restaurant. It’s common to see Mark out there, farming fresh supply.
“We have binoculars scattered around the tables, so you can literally watch them at low tide,” says Bisson. “You can see the boat coming in, and say, ‘Oh, that’s the next batch of oysters!’”
Their current menu offers raw and grilled oysters with a variety of topping choices, creamy oyster stew, and rotating kabobs from Kaisacole Seafood next door. They also carry local choices, such as bread from Avenue Bread, and a wine and beer selection that are all from the Pacific Northwest.
“A lot of people that say they don’t like the oysters try a grilled one, and it turns them,” says Bisson.
A menu expansion is in the works. After they “work out the kinks,” Bisson says they want to add more choices, including oyster po’ boys, pan-fried oysters, and much more. They’ll likely work on these menu additions during their slower winter season.
Drayton Harbor Oyster Company
685 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine360-656-5958