London: Retail & Leisure
Whats new? Oystermen
London’s seafood scene has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years. After years of the cuisine being overlooked in favour of the most current in vogue global food trend, British seafood is now experiencing somewhat of a renaissance period, with a plethora of new occupiers setting up in the capital.
One of the newest of these is Oystermen, which opened its first unit in summer 2017 at 32 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Prior to this, the business traded from a market stall at Waterloo, whilst also operating pop ups at parties and weddings. We recently spoke to co-founder Rob Hampton about they’ve been up to recently and what they have planned for 2018.
Where did the inspiration for Oystermen come from? How long have you guys been working with seafood and what does the future of Oystermen look like?
We met in a seafood restaurant, back in 2013, and bonded over a shared love of seafood and hospitality, this was often over a couple of dozen oysters. Ultimately both of us had previous experience working with seafood and it was always something we came back to.
The true inspiration behind the Oystermen came from Matt’s wedding, when we ended up shucking oysters together for the other guests. It just seemed so much fun, to do it on this level, all stripped back. Working weddings and events gave us the opportunity to build up the Oystermen brand, and gave us time to find the site on Henrietta Street we now call home.
The seafood market in London has seen several new entrants over the past year – how do you plan to differentiate yourself from the rest of the market?
We are experienced restaurant operators and we love what we do. As well as working with the best and freshest quality ingredients and with a team of amazingly talented and experienced chefs we have a real commitment to high levels of hospitality. Good quality food should be served in a setting that puts you at ease and by a team of staff who are friendly, knowledgeable and know what they are doing. Restaurants are about a complete package, no element works without the others.
How do you plan to attract diners who perhaps would have been reluctant to eat oysters previously?
We sell oysters individually to allow people to try just the one, we offer our Happy Hour (Monday to Friday 3-5, six oysters and glass of French bubbly for £10), and we have a team of staff who love selling oysters, so we have a number of ways of enticing people in. Ultimately oysters are 100% about freshness; give someone a nice fresh oyster and they are unlikely to not enjoy it!
How important is the provenance of your product? Do you source exclusively from within the UK?
Our policy is that we serve from the UK where possible. For some things we are willing to go a little further afield if it works better in terms of price and quality, but this is actually quite rare. Our oysters are all bought directly from growers and so, these are UK only, with a particular focus on the South East and south coast. The only exception here is our regular supply of oysters from Carlingford in the Republic of Ireland, but that’s only a couple of miles across the border!
Any new concepts in the pipeline?
We do have a couple of concepts for accessible seafood restaurants which we believe could be scaled up and rolled out in a way in which the Oystermen can’t be, but these remain focused on seafood, as this something we love working with.
For more information, visit www.oystermen.co.uk.
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