Olympia Oyster Bar
What They Feed:
a Pacific Coast centric oyster bar, serving sustainably raised & harvested oysters: raw, naked & dressed
Seeders & Feeders They Support: Jandy Oyster Co, Jones Family Farm, Hama Hama Oyster Co, Chelsea Farms, Hog Island Oyster Co, Island Creek Oysters, Groundwork Organics, Spring Hill Farms, Sauvie Island Organics, Cascade Organic
Melissa Mayer and Maylin Chavez first met at a collaborative chef event in San Diego in December 2013. As they were shucking, the conversation quickly turned to oysters and their mutual love of the magnificent creature. The two passionate chefs (Maylin, who grew up in Mexico and Melissa, coming from Wisconsin) loved these events as a way to meet people and integrate with the food community in San Diego. Not long after that they shared a ride to another event in Utah, when Melissa first shared her dream with Maylin to open an oyster bar. Maylin was enthusiastic to support her friend and told Melissa to let her know how she could help.
In December 2014, Melissa suggested a trip to France to her now very good friend Maylin. And so they went, and “ate 1 million oysters” throughout Paris and Burgundy. The most enchanting place they went was Le Baron Rouge, in Paris. It was Sunday, and the weekly “oyster social” was so packed people were spilling out onto the sidewalk eating oysters. The divey spot, with a checkered floor and wine barrels as bistro tables, only served bread, cheese, charcuterie, oysters and wine, but nothing else was needed. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been so high on life” says Melissa. It was then and there that Melissa asked Maylin to be her business partner in the oyster bar. How could Maylin resist? “It was kind of a set up”, Melissa admits.
And so the two began their journey of finding a home for the oyster bar. They spent months journeying up and down the West coast: from San Diego and Santa Barbara to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The ate oysters and met with oyster farmers, getting a feel for each city and how whether they could pursue their dream there. Maylin and Melissa ended up falling in love with Portland: the city, the food community, the Seeders and Feeders.
They made the move to the Pacific Northwest and immediately immersed themselves in the culture, participating in events, hosting pop-up oyster parties and meeting as many people as they could. Maylin and Melissa were grateful for the support they received, all the while searching for a location for the restaurant and learning the ins and outs of investment and fundraising.
After a serious amount of work and all of the trials and tribulations that come with the territory, they opened Olympia Oyster Bar on December 16, 2015 – 1 year to the day that the duo had left for their trip to France and 2 years to the day after meeting in San Diego. It seems as though things had lined up just the way they were meant to.
Olympia Oyster Bar is more than a restaurant. It’s inspired by conviviality and community, and the desire to support the farmers. Maylin and Melissa source their oysters and seafood from the very best, many farmers whom they’ve met and have personal relationships with. On opening Olympia Oyster Bar they took the entire staff to Hama Hama Oyster Farm in Washington so they were all educated and had a connection to the farm and the people behind the product. They’ve created a welcoming space, where people can come and enjoy the day’s seafood, learn about sustainable agriculture from the well-informed staff, and feel good about the restaurant and community they’re a part of.
Advice for New Feeders:
Keep your ears open, eyes peeled and trust yourself
Be open to advice, but trust your instinct
Take criticisms and compliments in stride
“It’s a brand, it has a vision: to support the farmers”
“A Pacific Coast brand where oysters are king and libations their queen”
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