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Oyster shortage affecting Acadiana seafood restaurants

Posted at 12:15 AM, Oct 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-29 01:16:00-04

LAFAYETTE — An oyster shortage could affect your next meal.

Some restaurants are rationing what they are able to get because of a limited supply.

Right now, a five-pound sack of oysters is about $90. Last year, they were half that.

Restaurants are trying not to pass that cost down to consumers, but restaurateurs say this shortage is worse than it was after the BP oil spill.

"Louisiana is one of top producers of oysters throughout the United States, and now that Louisiana is having issues, our country is having issues," said Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago's Seafood Restaurant.

Cvitanovich says the oyster shortage is caused by too much fresh water being pushed into areas where the state gets their oysters.

"When they closed the Bonnet Carre Spillway and then reopened it again and for an extended period of time, that's when I started realizing, 'Oh wow. We're going to have some issues.'"

For the time being, Drago's has removed most of their oyster dishes from their menu, so that they can continue their signature dish, the charbroiled oysters.

Olde Tyme Grocery is also feeling the heat. Last week, the restaurant was out of oysters for three days.

"We get a lot of people that come from out of state that come to visit the restaurant," said manager Mark Thrasher. "They tell us that they come here just to try our seafood; they hear about the seafood, which is one of the main staples at Olde Tyme Grocery."

Despite the shortage, both restaurants are making sure their customers get their oysters.

"We're persevering, and we are in touch with several people to make sure we have them for our community," said Thrasher.

Cvitanovich is hoping items like raw oysters and a fried oyster poboy will be back on the menu sometime soon.

"I'm hoping that they come back down to a manageable number, so we can put them on our menu, so the quality is good and an affordable price," said Cvitanovich.