A New Drayton Harbor Oyster Company
In the 30 minutes I spent chatting with owner Mark Seymour on the patio of Drayton Harbor Oyster Company in Blaine, I watched one of his boats farm fresh oysters in the bay, haul them on land, and deliver them to the restaurant for same-day service. This level of freshness means oysters so good that people come from all over the globe to taste them. As a result, Mark’s business has boomed so fast in the last four years that he’s already outgrown his first location and cut the ribbon on the second, right on Peace Portal Drive.
A board inside Drayton Harbor Oyster Company tracks when the last oyster delivery was made and how long it takes the oysters to get from the ocean to the kitchen. The record? 13 minutes. A single farming trip can return 100 dozen oysters, delivered fresh during operating hours. “Our customers are able to verify that these just came out of the water,” Mark says. “Loving seafood, I know that freshness makes or breaks it.”
The Oyster Company’s story is a bit complicated. Mark’s dad, Steve, owned the business in the mid-‘80s, but the bay was shut down in the ‘90s due to pollution. Steve’s business partner, Geoff Menzies, worked with Puget Sound Restoration Fund and their manager, Betsy Peabody, to restore the shellfish beds. The pair succeeded, and the bay reopened in the early 2000s. Menzies kept the operation going until 2013, when Mark returned to the area and took over the business.
In 2015, Mark opened a small oyster bar, but quickly realized he would need more room. “2016 was like, holy sh*t, this is working,” Mark says. “2017 was like, ‘Oh God, we need a bigger place.” The new oyster bar, just next-door to the first one, opened May 18 of this year.
Drayton Harbor’s unique location—less than a quarter-mile from the Canadian border—attracts guests from all over the world. With tourism peaking in the summer, people come from as far as Singapore or Burgundy to enjoy Drayton Harbor’s oysters. “Talking to people that call themselves oyster connoisseurs, that have had oysters all over the globe, [hearing them] tell you that our product stands above everything else is pretty awesome.”
“I don’t want this to ever be called a restaurant,” Mark says. He takes pride in the Oyster Company’s relaxed atmosphere. “The reason that I have fun with this is because we don’t have a full menu. We’re like a really casual oyster bar. No reservations. Only a couple of tables,” he says. “I love having it feel like you’re at your friend’s house.”
For more content like this, check out our Dine section.