SEBASTIAN, Fla. — Have you ever tried ‘Florida-grown’ oysters?
You might associate them with the Panhandle, or even the west coast of the state.
Now, a Treasure Coast business owner is making it easier for you to get local oysters on your plate.
Nicolette Mariano owns Treasure Coast Shellfish, harvesting oysters in the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian.
She’s become one of the very few ‘oyster farmers’ on the east coast of Florida.
“There’s nobody else really growing oysters on the east coast of Florida. Indian River Oyster Company up in New Smyrna Beach started three years ago, but we’re not even competing against each other because we’re so far apart,” Mariano said.
She went all-in on her business this year after losing her 9 to 5 job around the time the pandemic began. She decided to use her free time to get more serious about growing and selling her product.
This month, she reached a big milestone. She is selling her oysters and delivering them to local restaurants.
“Now we’re delivering to restaurants. I made a run down to West Palm, Sassafras, they got a delivery. Driftwood and Sundy House. My first stop this morning was Pelican Seafood Company in Fort Pierce, they’re a big supporter,” Mariano said.
She’s making it easier for businesses to continue the push to include more local products on their menu.
Seeing her oysters, called ‘Sebastian Silvers’ on display, is a proud moment.
“It’s definitely really exciting. It’s still a rollercoaster of emotions,” Mariano said.
Basin Seafood and Fresh Fish Market was also one of her new deliveries this week.
“This is our third week of being open full time,” said Basin Seafood co-owner, Jeffrey Arbor. “We took it over in September.”
His business sells an abundance of fresh seafood, especially crabs. He’s excited to be able to offer another product that he can also call local.
“Most people when they think oysters, they think oh, blue points and only northern oysters are good. But I end up giving a sample to a lot of people who are hesitant to try Florida oysters and they end up loving it,” Arbor said.
Mariano is proving that even in the uncertainty of the pandemic, a unique idea and persistence to make it work can pay off.
“I think it’s great to support our local people. The more great things we have here in the same area, it’s going to bring more attraction here. I think it’s just great to support each other here locally,” Arbor said.