2015 marked the 30th anniversary of the Mobile Causeway’s Original Oyster House. Opening its first location in Gulf Shores in 1983, the restaurant quickly expanded and opened its second restaurant two years later on the Causeway. The restaurants soon became known as a Gulf Coast favorite for a variety of reasons such as its world famous fried cheese, fried shrimp and award-winning gumbo. Classics such as hand-battered fried crab claws, blackened Mahi and fresh Gulf oysters kept locals and visitors coming back for more. A visit to the Original Oyster House usually included kids playing on the playground, make-it-yourself cocktail sauce, a breath-taking, panoramic sunset and Southern hospitality.
As the oldest, same-owned restaurant on the Mobile Causeway, the Original Oyster House has weathered some catastrophic storms. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina gutted its original location, where Tacky Jacks once resided and was relocated several miles east where the Cock of the Walk once operated. “What could have torn us apart really became the cement that held our place together. After each devastating blow from a hurricane or storm, all of our employees came out in droves to put the place back together and back to work. Matter of fact, we were up and running only 15 days after Hurricane George in 1998, which I think could be a world record for recovery on the Causeway. It’s our family values that make the difference,” recounted Joe Roszkowski, president and CEO of the Original Oyster House.
Although the past 30 years for Original Oyster House on the Causeway brought some challenges, it also inspired continual growth and secured its place as a well-loved and highly recommended place for seafood. The addition of the Banquet Room in 2009 offered families and corporations a venue surrounded by the Mobile Delta with a perfect view of the Mobile skyline. Booking for all occasions, the Banquet Room has become a popular choice for group events, wedding rehearsal dinners, corporate seminars, receptions, office luncheons, retirement, birthday parties, presentations and holiday celebrations. Last year, the installation of a seven-foot fire grill and several oyster cameras paid off when Fire-Grilled Oysters, only nine months after its introduction, won Mobile Bay Magazine’s Best Bites Challenge against 31 other local restaurant’s best bites.
Along with its take-out, homemade desserts and seafood gumbo, the Original Oyster House has been sending alligators home in kid’s meals, giving back to our community through sponsorships and donations and being recognized for its environmental practices including converting its fry oil into biofuel to transport its fleet. You may also have noticed its solar water heaters on the roof and its wind turbine, the only one on the Causeway, which will produce electricity once winds reach 8 miles an hour or more. But maybe the best way to capture why the Causeway Original Oyster House is worth celebrating after 30 years is through the people who made it what it is today. Here are highlights of their favorites:
Tracy Tureau, Server at Original Oyster House for 11 years.
Favorite Menu Item: Shrimp Florentine
Favorite memory from working: The character of the old building
Favorite thing about the old location: The casual work attire
Favorite thing about the current location: The bar
Karen Taubel, Server at Original Oyster House for 18 years.
Favorite Menu Item: Josh’s Shrimp and Grits
Favorite memory from working: How unique the old restaurant was
Favorite thing about the old location: Causal and laid back atmosphere
Favorite thing about the current location: Fire-Grilled Oysters
Dre Lawson, Dining Room Manger at Original Oyster House for 25 years
Favorite Menu Item: Shrimp Diane
Favorite memory from working: Meeting Gary Busey
Favorite thing about the old location: Seeing the Battleship every night
Favorite thing about the current location: One floor, one menu
Cedric Hudson, Cook at Original Oyster House for 29 years
Favorite Menu Item: Steak
Favorite memory from working: How small we started out as and how big we became
Favorite thing about the old location: Working upstairs better than downstairs
Favorite thing about the current location: Bigger kitchen.
Tobie Rogers, Assistant General Manager at Original Oyster House for 20 years
Favorite Menu Item: West Indies Salad
Favorite memory from working: When the balloon on the roof blew away in the storm and I tried to go save it
Favorite thing about the old location: How they started out so small and grew so large in just two years
Favorite thing about the current location: Being up higher so we are safer from storms and I do not have to shovel mud
Mary Lou Roszkowski, Vice President Operations/Co-owner at Original Oyster House for 32 years
Favorite Menu Item: Fish Tacos
Favorite memory from working: Working together and becoming a family during hurricane clean up
Favorite thing about the old location: How business grew over the years and how the building expanded in stages. Started with just the upstairs, then added the down stairs seating and later building a deck.
Favorite thing about the current location: The elevator
David Dekle, Vice President /Co-owner at Original Oyster House for 32
Favorite Menu Item: Crab Claws
Favorite memory from working: Christmas of 1998 when we were able to provide a warm and comfortable place for the Taylor and Clarke families to stay while the search and Rescue folks looked for Mr. Taylor and Mr. Clarke who tragically lost their lives in a duck hunting accident. We provided the families the keys to the restaurant since we always close Christmas eve and Christmas Day, so they wouldn’t have to sit in their cars at the boat ramp. This allowed both families to have friends and loved ones around them during such a tragic time.
Favorite thing about the old location: How we would build a dining room whenever our increase in business warranted it. On one occasion we built one overnight.
Favorite thing about the current location: Fire-grilled oyster grill.
Joe Roszkowski, CEO and President /Co-owner at Original Oyster House for 32 years
Favorite Menu Item: Mahi Down on the Bayou
Favorite memory from working: How the staff came together with a mission to put the restaurant back together after hurricane George
Favorite thing about the old location: The seafood-dive feel of the Half Shell downstairs
Favorite thing about the current location: Diversity – the bar, Fire-Grilled Oysters, the ability to have banquets at the restaurant
The Original Oyster House has two locations, Mobile: 3733 Battleship Parkway, on the Causeway and Gulf Shores: 701 Hwy 59 on the Original Oyster House Boardwalk. Both locations offer spectacular waterfront views, private party rooms and have been celebrated as the area’s finest family restaurants for the past 32 years. The Original Oyster House is managed by Superb Foods, a management company of Geez Louise Boutique, OOH Trading Company and Joe & Dave’s Sauces and Seasonings. For more information about Original Oyster House, visit www.originaloysterhouse.com or call 251-928-2620.