Oyster Crisis Sparks Business Creativity

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EASTPOINT - Franklin County business owners are having to get creative to stay afloat after one of worst oyster harvesting seasons in recent history. Oyster processing houses are struggling to stay open.

At least one owner has transformed her business into an oyster bar in

Shucking oysters at Lynn's Quality Oysters is nothing new, but putting them on a plate and serving them to customers for lunch is something new for owner Lynn Martina.

"At this point and the way we were going, it was the only way we were going to keep the doors open. Hopefully it's going to pan out. We're going to make it work," said Martina.

Martina ran one of the more well known oyster processing houses in the area, but when the oysters disappeared from the Apalachicola Bay a few yearS ago, she had nothing to process.

So about a month ago, she converted her oyster processing house into a half-shell oyster raw bar. She also has a retail market inside.

"The demand is still there, but the supply is not. Other states are in trouble. We always brought in a lot of product in from out west too and those states are in trouble, so it's cutting your supply down and all the dealers here are just struggling doing whatever to keep operating," said Martina.

Like hundreds of her Franklin County neighbors, Martina has been forced to be creative to survive the oyster crisis.

"I think people are looking at ways to survive this downturn. I don't think anybody's looking to get out of the business. I think people still want to see and believe that it's going to come back," said Anita Grove, Executive Director for the Apalachicola Bay Chamber.

"Determined. It's a challenge, but we're going to make it work," said Martina.

If her business succeeds, Martina plans to expand her oyster bar seat outside, offering tables with a view of the Apalachicola Bay.