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The Shop, Portland’s oyster hotspot

Oystender: Similar to a bartender but deals in the art of shucking and serving oysters. Knowledgeable, consistent, humorous, well trained and full of amusing anecdotes.

Took my first trip up to see our brethren in Portland, ME. Figured there was no better time to celebrate with them than their successful first trip around the moon, so to speak.

What was fascinating to watch was what The Shop has created in the community in only a year. A central hub of a lively city. Almost like a neighborhood bar or even coffee shop but with more pride, life, and charisma. The vibe was friendly and the atmosphere was inviting. The heightened excitement of the patrons was something I have not witnessed in a casual dining concept.

Like kids in a candy shop, adults walk through doors with bright eyes and curiosity. Not yet knowing where they are or what they want but eagerly awaiting what is coming their way. The signage is fun and different, evoking memories of an ice cream parlor or your favorite watering hole but with a charming approach and a witty feel.

The “oystenders” are ready and waiting with questions, answers and loaded with quick responses to help select the perfect oyster for their guests. Sweet, salty, briny, big, small, earthy, what state they’re from, who the farmers are, and how they are grown, flow from the “oystenders” friendly faces as they dial in the guest’s choices. Much like a talented bartender, they dazzle with shucking skills and invite all to watch. The pure joy they bring to the guests results in the first step of oyster bliss.

A constant flow of happy children, dogs, excited adults, curiosity, and an aura of relaxation enters through the doors as each oyster is shucked and small but significant memories are soon to be made.

Service is everything and the staff at The Shop relish in the fact they are making a difference in the days of these guests. All through oysters, good times, a pleasant atmosphere, a knowledgeable staff and an inviting layout.

The Shop is a must see and must visit. A true community hotspot where oysters set the tone and everybody wins.