Say "The Oyster Bar" in central Arkansas and most people think, well, oysters on the half shell served by the half dozen or if really hungry, a dozen snuggling up to a wedge of lemon on a plate—perhaps fried or stuffed into a Po-boy. Of course, there are other seafood choices on the menu, as well as dishes with a Cajun flair like shrimp gumbo, Creole, etouffee or Cat-touffee and red beans and rice. Then there's ham-and-cheese, down-home deep fried catfish and ice box pie. At this Stifft Station hot spot, family friendly takes on a whole new meaning.
"We're right in the middle of a great neighborhood with lots of families that we absolutely love. We get to know and take care of the people who live here and in turn they support us," says owner Virginia Boyd.
As The Oyster Bar moves into its 35th year, Boyd and her employees describe the operation as that of "a close family...like a home away from home."
Boyd bought the then nine-year-old restaurant in 1984. She was only 32 years old. Before The Oyster Bar, she was a social worker with a master's degree who thought the restauratnt would be a good investment and welcome career change. Not entirely without experience—Boyd's parents were in the food business—she caught on quickly.
"I'm like a jack-of-all-trades," she says about a job that demands her to be a problem-solver, social worker and cheerleader for her 19 employees, as well as cheif party planner for the restaurant's successful catering side of the business.