CELEBRATING YEARS OF LOWCOUNTRY OYSTER HERITAGE
I married into the oyster business 30 years ago. My husband's grandfather moved to Hilton Head Island in the early 1900s and started one of the first oyster shucking houses in the area, and it has been a mainstay in the Toomer family for all of these years.
The business has changed drastically over time. Waterfront docks have been sold because the land was prime property. As our families got older, there haven’t been many others to fill in. We have been fortunate to remain in business here in Bluffton, but we’ve felt the labor shortage.
May River oysters play a special part in my heart, but I truly believe they are the best in the world. With their briny taste and freshness, they are hard to beat. I will gladly eat a raw oyster any time of the day, but they are best right off the shucking knife. That is the ultimate in freshness. At our restaurant, I like ordering a bucket of steamed oysters served with all of the tools and condiments: lemon, raw horseradish, saltines and cocktail sauce.
E‘VERY‘ YEAR, MY HUSBAND "REPLANTS” OUR SHUCKED SHELLS SO OYSTERS CAN REPRODUCE. HE IS A FARMER OF THE RIVER.
Every year, my husband "replants” our shucked shells so oysters can reproduce. He is a farmer of the river. The most important part to me is the relationships we have formed over the years with the shuckers and pickers. We are a big family, and they are the hardest workers I know. It is truly an art.
Tina Toomer and her family own Bluffton Oyster Co. and Bluffton Family Seafood House.