National Oyster Day: Wintzell’s shucking and serving the favorite any way you want
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It’s National Oyster Day! While most folks eat them “raw” -- there are countless ways to enjoy them. FOX 10′s Lee Peck stopped by a local downtown favorite --- where “Oyster” is their middle name.
On any given day -- you’ll find at least one person busy shucking oysters behind the bar here at Wintzell’s Oyster House.
Known for the seafood delicacy -- Wintzell’s serves them up fried, stewed, and nude -- any day of the year -- especially National Oyster Day.
“They’re not around as much as they were in years past... So people come in -- we get a lot of tourists down here -- first thing they look at is this oyster bar and the guy over here shucking oysters -- so they want to come over here and be a part of that,” explained Mike Vickers, Wintzell’s Oyster Bar Associate Manager.
Raw -- of course -- their most popular! But as we found out -- there’s no wrong way to eat them.
“I like to mix them with the horseradish and hot sauce and just let them slide on down. She hates them. (Laughs) I’m not an oyster fan -- Lee: He can have yours? -- Absolutely,” said one couple visiting from Arkansas.
For Johnny Jones -- he prefers his oysters -- char-grilled. He makes it a point to stop at Wintzell’s downtown every time he visits the Port City.
“Lee: What is it about the oysters here at Wintzell’s? -- Jones: It’s got a good taste. It’s got the seasoning and all on it. It’s just right -- the chefs really know what they’re doing at this place.”
And something else Wintzell’s is known for -- their oyster eating contest. It dates back to 1969. The men’s record standing for nearly 12 years at 35 dozen (421 oysters). And the women’s record just a little over 3 years at 18 1/2 (223 oysters) -- raw oysters eaten in one hour.
The walls of the restaurant are covered with history -- including “Downtown Willie Brown” -- whom the Oyster Bar is named after. He shucked for patrons for nearly 50 years before his death in 2018.
“He is a local legend. Willie worked for Wintzell’s for 47 years. You get people coming in all of the time saying I used to come up here -- and Willie would shuck for me and now I’m here with my son and grandkids -- generations he shucked for still coming and want to relive that novelty and everything that Mr. Willie used to do for them,” explained Vickers.
And Wintzell’s will keep shucking and serving -- keeping the oyster tradition alive -- as long as folks keep coming back.
Meanwhile, they also tell us that myth -- of only eating oysters in months that have an “R” -- really hasn’t applied in years -- because refrigerated trucks stopped that issue -- keeping the oysters fresh all year round.
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