Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shuckey's Restaurant Review

I promise not to make this a habit, but I have to write about Shuckey's Oyster Bar and Seafood Company. Ever been someplace that you really wanted to love?
That was Shuckey's for me. Mike's friend from high school, Gus, recommended the place, which is a stone's throw from our house. When I forgot to thaw salmon for supper tonight, Shuckey's was the first choice for dining out.
Here's what I liked:
  • Brightly painted exterior, reminiscent of Key West.
  • Christmas lights hung throughout (made the place look cool!), along with lots of cool signs, posters and neon lights.
  • An outside eating area.
  • A menu full of reasonably priced food.
  • A server who kept a smile on her face the ENTIRE evening, even when I'm sure I appeared to be losing patience.
  • Big shrimp, great tasting grouper and crispy fries and hushpuppies.

Here's what I didn't like:

  • The speed of service. We got there at 5:15 p.m. and left a few minutes after 7 p.m.
  • The raw oysters (see photo above).
  • The cole slaw.
  • No fountain soft drinks. We were brought canned Cokes, and charged $1 each for them.
  • By the time our food finally came, 45 minutes had passed and our Cokes were watered down.
  • The speed of trying to get out of there.

When we arrived, there were two people at one table who were nearly done with their meal, and one table of four people who were ordering. After waiting 30 minutes for our food, I asked the server if Mike could at least get his raw oysters (they required no cooking, after all) and she politely told me they were filling orders in the order they were received and there was a BIG order ahead of us. Uh...that was the four people at the table behind us. I think that's a clear sign of trouble when four people constitute a "big order."

Shuckey's needs a lesson in cole slaw making. It was white cabbage and dressing. Period. No carrots. No purple cabbage. Not finely chopped. Big, hulking pieces of cabbage.

Regarding said oysters, the menu offers a "Shuckey's Dozen," which is 13 oysters. The shells above housed two of the oysters. I swear to you, I thought Mike had been short-changed two oysters when the tray came out because these two runts were hidden under bigger oysters. Note to Shuckey's: if you're gonna brag about how your dozen oysters is more than the next guy, don't include oysters in shells like the ones pictured above. You do nothing to advance your reputation by pulling a stunt like that.

If I go to a sit-down restaurant, I want my Coke from a fountain, not a can. If there was to be a next time for me at Shuckey's- which, unfortunately, there won't- I would bring my own can of Coke.

At the rate everything had gone that night, we knew better than to wait for our server (the ONLY server in the entire place, mind you) to bring us the check. We went to the bar to ask for it. She kindly asked us if we could wait a minute. That's what we had been doing all night, so why stop now? She delivered beer to a table outside, took a guy's order (after politely apologizing for his long wait) and then brought us the check. While waiting for her to run through the credit card, we chatted with some people at the bar, all of whom complained about the slow service.

So, as badly as I wanted to like Shuckey's, I have to say that sometimes it takes more than good food to make a restaurant good. I'm sure if anyone from Shuckey's reads this, they'll refer me to this info box printed on their menu: "Just about everything at Shuckey's is hand prepared in our kitchen. Some menu items may take longer than others...we appreciate your patience and your business."

This is my response. I don't care how good the food is, 45 minutes is too long to wait to get it.


Anonymous said...

Wow, the smallest ones we were shucking yesterday at the cookout were way larger than those two pitiful little things. They shoulda just chunked those into the freezer, toward a pot of oyster stew.

Glad you didn't take me there when you were talking about it last weekend.

My opinion, worth just what it cost ya.

truewonder said...

Those silly Shuckey shucksters...sometimes I wonder how businesses stay in business when they only depend on what works(good food) and largely avoid the details. (Good service, gratitude in the way of a happy customer made to feel like they're the only customers...)yep, that's common sense. Hmmmm. Maybe they're millionaires, and their retaurant is just a should send your post to the owners..perhaps they're depending to solidly on those who work for them. I would be miffed too...and would have said so also. Sisters in arm and arms!!! Take care-

shuckeys said...

How very interesting and insulting to find your 'blog' about my restaurant, Shuckeys Oyster Bar. You should have asked to speak to the owner personally if you had such an experience, because I was here and I'm always here. Very revealing of your character, or lack thereof. It almost seems that given the time wasted on this 'piece of crap', you must have some personal vendetta against me or someone here? First of all, you are obviously a chain restaurant groupie. And for your anonymous friend who is also clueless, no, we are not millionaires doing this for a hobby. This is my lifes' dream. My partner and I work 76 hours a week keeping the Best Oyster Bar In Town running. We cannot afford more help, every cost we incur has gone up astronomically over the last two years. Our country is in a recession, do you know how many restaurants have gone out of business this last year??? Your 'Gripes' are typical of the type customer who just does not fit it here, and you are one of a very small minority, Thank Goodness! I'm glad you'll never be back - GO to Red Lobster, get their little beeper and WAIT one hour for a table, then WAIT again for your food. It works out better here at our little Mom and Pop cozy/casual place - you get to sit down and drink your coke and wait. But I guess you wouldn't want to pay another $1 for another coke. GO to ANY Chain and pay $2.75 for a watered down fountain coke if that's what YOU LIKE. I prefer the can. (You didn't mention that our Draft Beer is also $1.00, which is a GREAT price!) Stay with the Chain Restaurants, I think they might put purple cabbage in their coleslaw but don't quote me on that because I know it's important to you. The point you were trying to make with your oyster picture is lost, and even more of a waste of time. How very strange you didn't take a picture of the whole tray, LOADED FULL - OF 13 OYSTERS (or more)!! If we give you some small ones, they are the 'pups's, and they are EXTRA, and FREE. Our oysters are the freshest, plumpest, and saltiest for miles around and any of our loyal regular customers will fight over that fact. Good oysters are not judged by size alone, except by people like yourself and your one friend. I vaguely remember you with the camera phone and there were WAY MORE than 4 people at the time you were here, you even mention in your critique that people WERE people at the bar. We also always have take-out orders going, so the time you waited is not unreasonable - unlike like this blog crap. How very unfair that you would spend time writing this piece of trash, instead of speaking to me which would have taken 5 minutes at the most and I could have accommodated you in some way. Or attempted to. We have a Welcome sign on our door that welcomes all sorts of folks. The sign also says 'No Whiners Allowed'. I will place your picture right next to the 'NO WHINERS ALLOWED' Sign. I'm embarrassed that I've taken the time to respond to this #@&*.

shuckeys said...

THURSDAYS - 10 WINGS - $6.95!

shuckeys said...

Includes Fries, Slaw, & Hushpuppies

shuckeys said...


shuckeys said...

40 lbs / 20 lbs
On Ice & Washed!!

Lorrie said...

I have no camera phone. I took home those two little oyster shells and photographed them on my dining room table. I deleted a few of Shuckeys advertisements that the owner posted, but then I decided, what the heck? Why not let her advertise to the seven people who read my blog? So, dear readers, please don't take my word for it. Go try Shuckey's for yourself!

Anonymous said...

Lorrie... i was just on google trying to find the website for Shuckey's and ended up on your blog. I must admit, this is the first time i've ever responded to a blog, in fact, i think it's only about the 3rd time i've been on a blog!.... but i deviate..
My husband and i are new snowbirds, spending some of the winter months in your glorious sunshine state. We discovered Shuckey's just before we went home last spring. We knew the moment we walked into the bar that we were going to like it. It just felt right. The waitress, who was serving a young couple at the bar and joking with them and a few others sitting at the bar, turned to us and welcomed us, both with words and with a smile. We ended up sitting at the bar -there were only 2 empty stools - and we've never looked back.
My husband and i go to Shuckey's every week or so. We go because the beer is cold and only a buck... we go because we love the atmosphere.... we go because we love the people... we go because the food is great (the seared tuna is to die for, as well as the spicy seafood soup)... we go because we feel welcomed... and we go because we hate the sterility and ordinariness of big franchised bars. We take all our company from back home there and it's always where they want to go back to.
If there is an unusual wait time for food, and this rarely happens, it won't change how much we love Shuckey's.
Don't judge Shuckey's on one unusually long wait time and what you think were oysters that were too small. In fact, i'll always remember one older guy who was in there one late afternoon. He was a salesman whose territory is from Tampa to Orlando. He bragged that he'd tried everyone oyster bar in that territory, both large and small. He claimed that Shuckey's had by far the best oysters, in fact he'd gone 30 minutes out of his way to get some.
Yikes... i think it's time to head over there now..... cheers!
PS.. evidently i don't have a blogger id, so i have to go on as anonymous... my name is Bon

Seafoodjunkie said...

I too was looking for Shuckey's website and found your blog.... I love a good oyster fight! My favorite dive is Dune Dogs in Jupiter, and like Bon I'm a sunbird and lover of dives. But I write because I wanna love Shuckey's too. My favorite place, Shaw's Crab House (great website with pix) in Chicago has a famous Oyster Bar and hosts the National Oyster Slurp-Off Championships in October at the "Royster with the Oyster" Festival... the girl that walks around in an Oyster outfit during the festival is named "Shuckey"... go figure. The reason for my search.

To the point, some Oyster species like Kumamotos from the Washington State are quite small but with a deep cup and quite prized for their flavor, I suspect yours (in photo) were immature Apalachicolas which aren't too satisfying and need to be left in their beds a few more years... but still, Oyster bars need our support, and little dives are a treasured asset for any community, so good luck to Shuckey!
Bill Werme - Chicago

Anonymous said...

Hello blogger. My name is Jessie and I am a part time bartender of Shuckey's and I happened upon this blog as I am developing a facebook page for Shuckey's and did a web search - so here I am. I just finished reading each comment and you blog. I must say there is a lot of very true statements from both sides and also typical restaurant complaints. First let me say the food at Shuckey's is amazing, regardless of how long it takes to cook. Imagine if you will: Lets say the restaurant only has people at four tables and a few people at the bar (which is most common unless its during a busy hour or day) each of the table order a couple dozen oysters along with a few dozen at the bar....lets say a total of 10 dozen right. How fast can you shuck 120 oysters?? You know the ones that don't have to be cooked. When you go to a Mom & Pop part of the charm is that you are getting good food with good service. Good service being polite, accommodating and fresh! I believe your biggest compliant was the wait for the food and you contradicted yourself by admitting that the menu itself explains food is cooked/prepared fresh requiring a patient wait. My advise to you my friend would be to loosen up, enjoy the wait, that is in fact part of the enjoyment of going out. Play the jukebox, walk around look at the whimsical decor, talk to another customer, sit outside and enjoy the open sky....but you where obviously to tense to enjoy such laid back atmosphere. It's a shame really. On average I make about $200 bucks in tips over a 5 hr work shift, I would have to agree with Deb, this is not the restaurant for you. However, I do not agree with the Red Lobster restaurant to you either because there too you have to wait you should try hmmmmm McDonald's! Or Long John Silvers. Since working at Shuckey's I have met the most amazing humble people and only one other time did I have a customer turn their nose up at a "Gasp" can of soda, and right away I knew this was not the bar for her. I'll be frank, I would rather not put myself through the agony of waiting on people like this nor do I care about their 5-10 dollar tip. I work here because I love it! Not because I need the money. The wisest person I ever knew once told me that you should try everything twice and that the saying try everything once was advice ever! However, I would not wait on you, but maybe next time you won't burn bridges. If you don't like Shuckey's here are a few more places with great fresh food you should avoid: Liquid Larry's, Natalie's, Old Man Franks, Harbor side, Gary's old place, Skippers smoke house, Jim Bo's, Tanners, and Harry's seafood. Now I am off to have some famous shrimp fondue, Yum!
Jessie Lane Walker

Lorrie said...

Thank you for your comment to my now 2-year-old post about Shuckey's, Jessie. One thing that really aggravates me about your post and some others in support of Shuckey's is that you completely disregard the positive things I said about the restaurant, in favor of going after my comments that you disagree with. Please note that this was reasonably balanced. I mentioned 6 things I liked about the restaurant, and 6 things I didn't like.

You don't know me, so you don't know that my family eats almost exclusively at mom-&-pop restaurants when we dine out. We are HUGE supporters of the local economy and of people who have a dream of owning a restaurant and the desire & guts to chase it. We've been to nearly every restaurant you suggested that I NOT go to, and have enjoyed our experiences.

I think my best compliment about Shuckey's was about the server who waited on us that afternoon so long ago. She was wonderful. She should have explained the hand-shucking process to us as a means of explaining why there was a wait, but she likely assumed we would know that. I didn't, because I don't eat oysters.

You were kind enough to offer some advice to me, so I will reciprocate and offer some to you: it is absolutely wonderful of you to defend your place of employment. That is a great move from a public relations standpoint, and one that I hope your boss recognizes. However, you do not do that place of employment any PR favors when you bash a one-time customer for their opinions. You are absolutely correct that everyone should give a restaurant two chances. Every establishment can have an off-afternoon. Not that you would want me to, but do you think I would dare set foot in your restaurant again after the owner has threatened to put a picture of me beside their "No Whiners" sign and you have told me I'm unwelcome?

How many others searching for information about your restaurant might happen upon this blog and read what the owner and the bartender have written to a patron and decide NOT to go there because of the lack of professionalism exhibited here?

I welcome comments to this blog and as you can see, I have allowed everyone to post their feelings on this topic. Your comment would have been a great opportunity to encourage me to give the place another try, and to encourage others not to take my word for it, but try out the restaurant themselves. Instead, you and the owner lowered yourselves to telling me how unwelcome I am and belittling my ciriticism.

For the sake of your restaurant, which as I said before, had great food, I do hope readers of this blog will ignore your unprofessionalism and try the restaurant in spite of you- not because of you.

Best of luck with the restaurant. I do hope it succeeds. It seems to be doing well and for that, I am happy.

Chris said...

I quote: "... I don't eat oysters."

Shuckey's is an oyster bar...welcome to hilarious irony.

This blog is great! Any publicity is good publicity - I am a marketing/business major as well as a full time professional musician and promoter. Shuckey's was the first place in Lakeland to hire me when I moved here. Customers are loyal, food is great, and most people don't have any dispositions when they walk in; they are on Shuckey's time. When I walk in - I'm in the keys, with my shoes off, no watch, and a beer in hand - and not a care in the world. Doesn't get better than this!

Welcome to the 1% club that doesn't get it.

Happy blogging.

Chris Walker - writer for focus magazine - food/music critic, and member of the Chris Walker Band

Lorrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorrie said...

Chris, perhaps you've forgotten the name of the restaurant where you used to work: "Shuckey's Oyster Bar & SEAFOOD COMPANY." While I don't eat oysters, I do eat other SEAFOOD. I fail to see your aforementioned irony. Also, I really hope you'll pay close attention in those marketing courses. As the owner of a PR firm, I can tell you unequivocally that "any publicity is good publicity" absolutely is not true. Just Google recent stories on the Tampa Workforce Alliance. Very eye-opening.

chriswalkerband said...

After contemplating my previous post, I would like to apologize for being hasty in thinking you are bloated with insecurity and Debby Downer-esque behavior. As a token of my apology I would like to suggest some great restaurants that provide copious amounts of food with no wait time! Try Golden Corral, Ling's Buffet, or Fred's Market.