After a long legal battle, July 31 was officially the last day for Drakes Bay Oyster Company's retail operations. They can continue wholesale operations, mainly selling oysters to local restaurants, but customers can no longer visit the now-closed Oyster Shack, in order to purchase, grill and shuck oysters on the beach of Drake's Estero.
Owner Kevin Lunny addressed a crowd of about a hundred visitors, thanking his supporters and the company's 25 workers. Lunny, along with Jorge Mata, who has worked at Drakes Estero for 30 years, led the crowd in one final toast with a Drakes Bay oyster.
There were many tears and hugs, but the somber affair also had a mix of anger and optimism -- anger at the National Park Service who is forcing the Lunnys out of Drakes Estero, and optimism for future oyster operations.
"It's not over," a defiant Lunny said. "We don't know our next steps, but there are going to be next steps and we're going to keep everyone informed."