Oysters return to the market at a high price ahead of Thanksgiving

Updated: Nov. 22, 2019 at 6:31 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Oysters are back on the market, but at a high price. Seafood business owners said the supply of oysters have suffered since the Bonnet Carre Spillway opened, but things are looking up now that more reefs are open.

With less than a week until Thanksgiving, some are beating the crowds to get what they need.

"We've been taking orders since last Wednesday and Thursday," Dennis' Seafood Owner, Denny Lacoste said.

"I came in today to pick up some oysters so that my family can have oyster dressing for Thanksgiving," Cindy Massey said.

But they come at a stiff price. Raw oysters sell for 89 dollars a gallon at Dennis' Seafood.

"Normally, this time of year, we're selling them for $72, but we gotta pay the money to get them, but they're good, oysters are good, and salty," Lacoste said.

Lacoste said he stopped selling oysters three weeks ago because they were so scarce. He said there's some relief now, as reefs in Louisiana and Mississippi opened about two weeks ago..

“They’re still very short, but when Texas opens, a lot of people that buy Texas oysters will help us out because our reefs are in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Lacoste said.

Customers who only buy oysters for special occasions said they don't mind the price hike.

"We eat them very seldomly, so we kind of just get together. It is what it is, five of us get together, split it up, and so the price is for us, not that big of a deal," Brian Hardy said.

"The price is high right now, but we all agreed that it was well worth it," Massey said.

Restaurant owners said they're facing the same issue..

Raw oysters were off the menu at Drago's for months, but finally back on Monday.

"The good news now is that the season from Texas has actually been pretty good. So the harvest in Texas is good, the quality we have right now is as good or better than anything that we have in Louisiana," Cvitanovich said.

He said due to the low supply, he's had to increase the price of raw and charbroiled oysters by two dollars.

"Even with that increase, our cost has gone up almost 50%," Cvitanovich said.

They now have inserts in their menus alerting customers of the price increase.

“We’re still absorbing some of the cost, but we’re a seafood restaurant, we’re known for our oysters, we have to have them. I just can’t go without oysters,” Cvitanovich said.

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