Shuck Station is a converted gas station, now oyster paradise

Eight oyster farms represented on menu at new Newcastle oyster bar

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 8:45am

    NEWCASTLE— If you’ve ever sampled raw oysters at Ondine in Belfast, Hoxbill in Camden, and Suzuki Sushi, North Beacon Oysters and Café Miranda in Rockland, chances are they came from eight oysters farms on the Damariscotta River. One young entrepreneur, Brendan Parsons, is the distributor behind it.

    Parsons, who was born and raised in Damariscotta, has made a small empire around them. He started his career working at an oyster farm in 2008. From there, he ran a raw bar for a catering company. Next, he opened BP’s Shuck Shack, a food cart in 2015. Parsons then started his own oyster farm, Blackstone Point, in 2016, but he wasn’t done yet. He opened his first restaurant in a converted gas station on Main Street in 2017 called River Bottom Raw Bar, and then, after extensive renovations, changed the name to Shuck Station this past June.

    The interior to the Shuck Station is airy and light with the industrial decor similar to a craft brew tasting room. A concrete bar serves as the focal point while the photographs on back wall is a tribute to each oyster farm that appears on the menu.  A daily special called “Taste The River” features a dozen of three types of oysters laid out on a bed of ice. The variety changes daily, but it serves as a unique tasting experience; each oyster has a back story which Parsons and his staff are happy to provide.

    The Shuck Station is a must stop in Newcastle. Along with oysters by the half dozen and by the dozen, one person can simply order a single off the menu and pair it with a variety of local craft brews such as Oxbow and Allagash, or local wines. They even have prosecco on tap.

    Like fine wines from a particular region, each oyster has its own distinct shape, size, brininess, flavor and texture.

    Parsons, who works seven days a week, is a brand ambassador of all things Damariscotta oyster.

    “We have a map on the back of our menu that shows where all of the varieties are sourced from and anyone on my staff can tell you what gives each one its flavor or its shape and color,” he said. “People come in and really like getting educated about what they’re tasting and how they compare to one another. It’s knowledge that they can take home with them and share with friends.”

    In addition to managing his restaurant and two food carts in Portland, he grows his own variety of oysters called Blackstone Points, which have a mild balanced brine, and a sweet finish.

    He simultaneously runs a separate wholesale business called Damariscotta River Distribution, which represents all eight oyster farms on the Damariscotta River and sells their oysters to restaurants and bars all over Maine.

    As far as he knows, he’s the only one doing business this way in the Midcoast.

    “Many of the farms and markets sell one or two varieties of Damariscotta River oysters, but we’re the only small wholesale business representing all eight,” he said.

    Shuck Station will be open up until the end of November before closing for the season, at which point, Parsons will be happy to stop working seven days a week. “I’ll be looking forward to a long break after Thanksgiving,” he admitted.

    For more information visit: Shuck Station

    Kay Stephens can be reached at