If Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink's new restaurant Leon's Oyster Shop, which opens this Saturday, doesn't work out, we think the two should go into the decorating biz. We popped by the King Street spot today and damned if it isn't as quirky/kitschy/Wes Andersony as we'd hoped. Clearly Reitz and Mink put some concerted effort into curating the look which features a huge bar with leather-upholstered stools, mix 'n' match table seating, an additional bar with a view into the kitchen, paintings by Becca Barnet and David Boatwright, black and white photos, old timey oil paintings, and a standing-only white-tiled oyster bar. It is a studied look in cool.
But a pretty face does not a great date make. The team is gonna need the eats to back it up. And for that, they've brought in a ringer: Michael Rogers, acclaimed New Orleans oyster man and six-time shucking champ.
"I've been shucking oysters since I was 13," Rogers told us. He spent 32 years doing just that at Uglesich's, a NOLA institution that happened to close just weeks before Katrina. It was there that Mink first met him. A loyal customer, Mink followed Rogers when he moved on to New Orleans seafood restaurant Casamento's. "I think I've known Tim for about 30 some years," Rogers says. In fact, Mink's been trying to talk him into moving to Charleston for two years.
After settling into Charleston five months ago, Rogers is now eager to put his left hand glove back on and get to work. We have to admit, we're eager too. Rogers says he can shuck 36 out of 50 oysters in five minutes. "I can shuck an oyster and fling it into someone's mouth halfway cross this room too," he added. "Already did it once this week during staff training." We don't believe him. But he's promised to prove us wrong. So we've got dibs on being number two.