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The Oyster Club
Mystic Staple Wins Connecticut Restaurant of the Year Award
Mystic’s Oyster Club is still a young company. The business opened its doors just seven years ago, which makes its rise to prominence in the restaurant world even more impressive. CEO Dan Meiser was named Restaurateur of the Year in 2016. And in December 2018, the Oyster Club earned the title of Restaurant of the Year for the East Region by the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
“It’s an incredible honor to be nominated again,” Meiser reflected. “For us, it’s humbling because there’s so many amazing restaurants and chefs in this state. We’re proud to be considered one of the best. It’s validation that our hard work is paying off and we’re doing things the right way.”
An Unwavering Commitment to Fresh, Local Products
The Oyster Club launched in September of 2011. It was Meiser’s first entrée into the culinary world as an owner. He explained that one of the first steps to success was expanding the property’s footprint.
“Our building was first constructed in 1902, as a small carriage house. We added the dining room and a bar area ourselves,” Meiser said. “This building has been home to a lot of businesses, including an ice cream parlor and a hot dog shop. We were the first to have the vision to add square footage and turn it into a full-service restaurant.”
One of Meiser’s main priorities since opening the Oyster Club’s doors has been to provide fresh, local foods to the clientele. “The term ‘farm to table’ is a popular term in food culture. A lot of people like to throw it around, but we actually live by it,” Meiser explained.
“We live on the ocean. We have a fishing fleet right here in Groton. There are beautiful fish that swim in our waters. There’s no need to import farm-raised fish from Florida or Alaska. Instead, we choose to get our products from local and regional farmers. We work with more than 50 farms to get our meats, seafood and fish. We also have our own 63-acre farm in Stonington that we source from. We definitely walk the walk.”
Meiser added that this practice enhances quality. “Our menu changes daily. We rework it entirely every single day. Our customers know that what they’re eating is the freshest product available. Other restaurants have access to local sources too, but very few utilize it at the level we do.”
Oyster Club: Expanding Mystic’s Notoriety as a Foodie Destination
The Oyster Club prides itself on its stellar reputation as a “foodie” destination in New England. Mystic has always been a popular destination for tourists, especially during the summer months. But Meiser says he has seen the tourist season stretch even longer as Mystic’s culinary scene expands.
“There are cheese makers, organic produce farmers, and breweries here. More visitors are seeking out Mystic year-round because of the growing number of unique and high-quality food options,” Meiser explained. “You have a food economy here that’s as exciting, diverse and as sought-after as any big city in America. People make a reservation at Oyster Club on a Friday night and then end up spending the whole weekend here and exploring the rest of Mystic. It’s great to see that growth and know that we play a part in promoting this area.”
The Oyster Club is still Meiser’s “baby,” as he likes to call it. But he has since expanded the business by opening two additional restaurants: the Engine Room and Grass & Bone. Meiser says his goals for 2019 include continuing to grow in such a way that also benefits his suppliers and the community at-large. The three restaurants employ nearly 200 people in the Mystic area. The company also purchased nearly $1 million of product from local farmers, fishermen and brewers in 2017 alone.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association will announce its award winners on December 3, 2018. The Oyster Club is up for Restaurant of the Year. Employee Dru Conway has also been nominated for Server of the Year. Support the Oyster Club by casting a vote here.
Mystic, CT 06355