Monday, June 17, 2024

From cart to brick-and-mortar: There’s a new seafood restaurant opening in Victoria

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If you’ve been meaning to try oysters and learn more about them, now’s your chance!

Local oyster and seafood master, Jess Taylor, has been running his own catering business, the Wandering Mollusk for the past 9 years — operating at weddings, community events, places like Whistle Buoy Brewing, and more. 

You may have seen him around with his cart of delicious seafood, including hand-shucked oysters and crab buckets!

“[It was] founded in 2014…we started with weddings right here in Victoria,” Taylor said.

Before long, his shucking caught the attention of some brewers, including Yellow Dog Brewery out of Port Moody, and later, Whistle Buoy Brewing.

(Wandering Mollusk pop-up at Whistle Buoy Brewing)

For nearly a decade, he’s been fueling this passion and watching his dream grow and expand — all the while serving his community delicious delicacies and knowledge of the sea through the Wandering Mollusk.

“The community has been so awesome to me.”

Now, he is excited to soon introduce everyone to his dream-turned-reality, Shuck Taylor’s — located at the former Shine Cafe location on the corner of Johnson and Blanshard Street! 

It will be a permanent location where his passion for local and quality internationally-selected oysters and seafood can attract customers right to the heart of downtown Victoria. 

“We will always have…Pacific oysters because it’s all about local, the community, and the Salish Sea…but we’re excited to offer more,” Taylor said.

“Not just Canadian oysters but oysters out of Ireland and the states.” 

Besides oysters, some highlighted menu items included Sunshine Coast farmed caviar and lobster rolls, made from 100% East Coast lobster! 

He will be selling the popular Wandering Mollusk Crab Buckets on-site too, so they’ll be available for order in person as well as online.

Additionally, he hopes to continue what he started on Airbnb Experiences in 2019 and host oyster shucking master classes right out of the restaurant!

And to think it all began on a whim after he quit his job in finance to work at Rodney’s Oyster House in Vancouver!

“Getting into Rodney’s and seeing how oysters were treated and taken care of and shucked properly…and the joy of customers coming in, that really stuck with me,” Taylor said.

“I remember thinking to myself, I just wish there was a place in Victoria I could do this…my hometown.”

So, that’s what he did!

(Jess Taylor / Wandering Mollusk)

But opening a restaurant is no easy task, especially for independent business owners. 

In gearing up for this special opening, including construction of the space, hiring of staff, stocking of the restaurant, and more, Taylor realized he was going to need some help. 

“There’s such a barrier…it’s really hard to push up to the next level unless you have investors…or something behind you,” Taylor said.

“It takes a lot of money to actually open a space.”

During this time of uncertainty, Taylor decided to reach out to the community with a “Shuck Starter,” asking the community to purchase Shuck Taylor’s gift cards — offering a 10% discount for those that wished to use the promo code, “caviarbumps” at checkout.

“I was so nervous about the whole thing…I was blown away by the response…people were waving the 10% and saying ‘Just take the money, we can’t wait to come visit’.”

The deal is still on for another couple of weeks if you wish to support Taylor and his dream. You can purchase gift cards (a.k.a., “Shuck Bucks”) via the Wandering Mollusk website.

Otherwise, Taylor can’t wait to welcome you into this new space when it opens mid-August!

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