Capital city oyster lovers are helping to keep an oyster farm near Bridget Cove afloat and fueling new demand in the process.
While addressing the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Meta and Alec Mesdag, owners of the Salty Lady Seafood Company, shared an overview of their experience and expressed gratitude for the community that has embraced their product.
“How lucky we are to live in a community that supports small businesses. They want to see us thrive” Meta said.
Earlier this year, the pandemic threw a wrench in their plans.
“We were approved to begin sales during the early lockdown period,” she said explaining that they needed to pivot from their plan to primarily sell their oysters to restaurants.
“We moved our focus to direct sales from our website,” she said, noting that some farms sell as much as 90% of farmed oysters wholesale to restaurants.
“We knew that pick up locations would be key and I am forever grateful for the local businesses, who eagerly partnered with us to make that happen,” she said mentioning Super Bear IGA, Panhandle Produce and Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods as some of the local businesses where their product is available for purchase.
She also said that several local restaurants have started serving her products, including the Red Dog, Forbidden Peak Brewery, Louie’s Douglas Inn and the Red Spruce Global Street Food Eatery.
“It’s been really fun to learn to love oysters and to see local folks learn to love them,” said Alec, who is a Juneau native.
Despite challenges related to testing and some state regulations, the couple hopes to grow their operation in the next few years by adding rafts that will expand capacity and adding a new site to start oyster seeds before bringing the growing oysters over to Bridget Cove.
“It takes a town like Juneau so keen on watching everyone thrive,” she said.
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Tips for shucking an oyster
According to Meta Mesdag, an owner of the Salty Lady Seafood Company, hold the oyster in a towel and use a shucking knife or a flat-head screwdriver to push down on the shell. Pushing down makes it less likely that you will shove the tool into your hand.
Best way to eat an oyster
If you can’t eat them on the dock fresh out of the water, Mesdag suggests using Louisiana fish fry mix to deep fry your oysters and then dip them in Bullwhip Kelp hot sauce, from Barnacle Foods.