MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) – It’s been almost a year since the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company had to close down, after a long legal fight. Now, the Tomales Bay Oyster Company is battling to stay open.
The oyster company serves tens of thousands of people a year. But that number is about to be cut.
“It’s awful. It’s so sad, this is a great place,” said Sindhura Kodali.
Not because of bad business or of a bad harvest. It’s because of a big mix up with county permitting that will soon make it illegal for owner Tod Friend to operate as-is.
“We’re trying to get in behind the use permit that’s been issued, and it makes us completely legal. We’ve been hanging out there for a couple years and taking hits. So we’re going to see if we can conform to the dictates of the law,” Friend said.
That law is actually a county issued a cease-and-desist order. It limits the company’s days of operation to a half day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The order also cuts the crew from 20 to eight, and forces them remove all 84 picnic spots.
“It would be really hard to not have picnic tables and grills. You basically would just pick up the oysters and go elsewhere, so you don’t have the community or the setting anymore. So it just becomes a roadside stand,” Kodali said.
More than half of Tod’s business is from folks who drive up and enjoy the oysters on site, something that won’t be available after the order takes effect October 16th.
So instead of sleep, he shucks through ways to find his employees other work, make ends meet, and make whatever changes he needs to keep his company together.
“The county has been very patient,” Friend said. “We aren’t going to believe that this is forever.”