South Sound shellfish farm opens local oyster bar
A touch of Boston, New York, the Bay Area and a whole lot of Olympia are the influences that have shaped Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar, a new restaurant that opened downtown this month.
Its home is at 222 Capitol Way N., the location of a new, open marketplace of businesses called 222 Market.. The market opened its doors prior to the oyster bar, but the bar and restaurant were not too far behind and opened Dec. 3.
It’s a dream come true for Kyle Lentz and Shina Wysocki, siblings who have strong ties to the local shellfish community and serve the oysters, clams and geoducks raised at Chelsea Farms on Eld Inlet. That’s the shellfish farm that was started by their parents, John and Linda Lentz, in 1987.
The dreaming started 10 years ago. Five years later they thought they had secured the right space, but it wasn’t suitable for commercial use. Finally, a family friend alerted them to the development that was under way at their current address, and they jumped at the opportunity. They also opened the business as a tribute to their father, John, who passed away two years ago.
And they wanted to share their love of food with everyone, or to “bring the romance to the community,” said Kyle.
“We see it all and try it all,” said Shina about their interest in food. That has led them to oyster bars in Boston, New York and San Francisco.
Chelsea Farms is represented at the oyster bar, but so is the Olympia Oyster Co. and National Fish & Oyster Co., which is in the Nisqually flats. They also have non-shellfish items on the menu. Be sure to ask for the specials, they said. The day they met a reporter, the special was spruce tip biscuit topped with delicata squash, duck confit and bacon jam.
Pair that with one of the oyster bar cocktails, such as the Urban Renewal — vodka, dry vermouth, St. Germain and green chartreuse — and your night is about to take off.
But if you’re new to raw oysters and want to try them, Kyle recommends the following approach: Start with a half-dozen Chelsea “gems,” which are smaller and have a clear flavor. They can be ordered “naked” (as is) or “dressed” (with garnish). Pair that with Pimm’s Cup, which is made with a liqueur called Pimm’s No. 1 and ginger, agave and lime.
Although they have a bar, the restaurant is family friendly, Shina said.
They also have a New Year’s Eve party planned with oysters and champagne. It requires a pre-paid reservation.
Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
Owners: Kyle Lentz and Shina Wysocki, brother and sister
Location: 222 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501
Years in business: New. The business had its grand opening Dec. 3.
Online: Find Chelesa Farms Oyster Bar on Facebook or Instagram or more about Chelsea Farms at chelseafarms.net.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; happy hour is 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
Did you know: Kyle and Shina grew up on Chelsea Farms, a shellfish farm in Eld Inlet that was started by their parents, John and Linda Lentz, in 1987. It grows oysters — the Chelsea gem — as well as clams and geoducks. Both also attended Capital High School. Kyle also runs a wholesale seafood business, while Shina has a culinary background and once cooked on a cruise ship that sailed the Sea of Cortez.