Full Moon Oyster Bar: Become a MoonerApr 01, 2017 08:30AM ● By Jason Huddle
Full Moon Oyster Bar: Become a Mooner
When the word oyster comes up in conversation, the first thought is often aphrodisiac accompanied by a giggle. But the coast of North Carolina is a prime source for the mollusk and that means good eatin’ for those who like the taste. There are also health benefits.
Foodrepublic.com sheds some light. “No, you will not get turned on by eating an oyster. However, this bivalve packs a wallop of zinc, which is great for making you feel good and keeping up your energy. It also ups your immune system, helps get rid of acne, eases rashes and makes your bones stronger.”
Oysters benefit the environment as well. Each one filters between 30 and 50 gallons of water per day. Oyster reefs serve as important fish habitats, thus good fishing spots, while controlling shoreline erosion. And, after being eaten, the calcium-filled shells can be used in gardens to improve the pH balance of the soil. Those nutrients are then passed on to the plants, serving as a natural fertilizer.
Measures are also being taken to ensure the oyster remains viable. Today, North Carolina’s state budget includes $1.03 million to build oyster sanctuaries in Pamlico Sound and $300,000 to build harvest oyster reefs.
“The state also wants to build the oyster aquaculture industry as Virginia has done. North Carolina’s farmed oyster industry last year amounted to less than a half-million dollars. Virginia’s industry was valued at $17.1 million,” according to the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
Aquaculture refers to restoring and building oyster beds that will then produce oysters for the commercial market. Today, annual profits internationally exceed $3 billion.
“Some areas of the U.S. have enacted policies to lease out areas for aquaculture businesses to utilize the oyster-restored beds. These leasing policies will prove beneficial to job creation in coastal areas, improve the surrounding economy, and restore habitats where oyster restoration projects and commercial businesses occur,”
Sustainable harvesting is good news for oyster lovers. Another piece of good news? Cabarrus County residents no longer have to drive to our eastern shores to enjoy a genuine oyster bar. So, let’s eat!
Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen
On Weddington Road at the new Willow Oaks Crossing, Full Moon opened last September and is the fifth location for the company. Its president, Randy Russell, past-owner of The Big Tuna Seafood
Company, has maintained his contacts in the seafood business, bringing fresh varieties to Dennis Copley, Concord’s general manager.
Over the last 14 years, Copley has moved up from dishwasher, to kitchen manager at Full Moon’s Jamestown location, and was in Concord on opening day, ready to start his new job.
All five Full Moon restaurants are in North Carolina, but Concord is as far west as the company has come.
“Randy Russell has known and kept up with the area since he was part-owner in a company called Superior Service and Supply Company,” Copley explains. “When a friend recommended the location, he just fell in love with it and decided we were ready to move in and become a part of this growing community.”
The restaurant’s layout is reminiscent of what is seen at the coast. “We are a true oyster bar,” Copley says. “There are no tables, only one horse-shoed bar. When you’re seated, your ‘shucker’ will greet you, take and make your drink order, then shuck your oysters right there in front of you from behind the bar. We will soon begin patio seating with tables outdoors.”
Copley describes the unique dining experience as communal. You’re seated around people you’ve likely never met. “ ‘Come as a stranger, leave as a friend’ is our mantra,” he adds.
Oysters aren’t the only items on the menu and Copley finds it tough to name one as a clear-cut favorite. “Our Crab Dipper and Seared Tuna Bites seem to be favorites on our First Bites menu,” he shares. “On our entrees, our Shrimp & Grits has been a big hit in this area. This dish is amazing with grit cakes topped with our homemade chipotle alfredo complemented with fresh andouille sausage, spinach, tomatoes and topped with a mixed cheese. Not to mention the variety of oysters we carry year-round.
“Randy’s wife, Carol Russell, is from New Orleans and insisted we bring in fresh Leidenheimer’s French Bread for our lunch Po Boys,” he adds. “We also offer this bread with our chargrilled oysters for soaking up the butter broth.”
Like other eateries, Full Moon brings entertainment to the scene. It’s Finally Friday sees live musical entertainment; on April 11, the Full Wolf Moon will be celebrated with the Super Moon Platter for two:
snow crab legs, fresh oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and King Crab; and as an ongoing challenge, if a customer eats four quarter moons – a raw oyster on a saltine with jalapeño, horseradish, black pepper and hot sauce – he or she will win a T-shirt. Copley says there have been more than 27,000 T-shirts given out at the restaurant’s locations.
So, while you won’t pop open an oyster to find a pearl, you can have them raw, rockefellered, basted, chargrilled, or fried...at Full Moon.
Story by: Kim Cassell
Photography by: Michael A. Anderson Photography