Gulf Oyster shortages increase restaurant prices in Miami

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Happy-hour oyster deals are becoming rare thanks to Hurricane Ida.

Photo by Laine Doss

It’s Friday and you’re ready to start a long weekend. There’s no better way to celebrate it than with a dozen oysters for a dollar and get painkillers at Monty’s in Coconut Grove.

There is only one thing that dampens your mood: Montys is fresh on oysters. The restaurant published the news on its Instagram pageand leaves countless fans of affordable seafood in the lurch.

Monty general manager Juan Barretta confirms the shortage of oysters. Barretta says Monty’s source for its oysters from the Gulf Coast, and those offered, has been in short supply and simply subordinate.

“We’ve been denying oysters almost every day for the past month,” Barretta says. “We refuse to serve anything but the best for our guests. What made it worse was Hurricane Ida going through oyster farms.”

He admits that Montys could procure oysters from other regions – like the Northeast – but they would be too expensive to offer for a dollar.

“We could pick oysters from other areas, but we had to charge three or four dollars for oysters during happy hour and maybe up to $ 40 for a dozen during dinner.”

Barretta says the decision was not to offer more expensive oysters at this time. In addition, he adds that Monty’s customers come to Golføsters.

“It’s a piece of Miami to slurp Monty’s oysters. Golf oysters have value for their size and taste.”

The problem, however, is that no one knows how long oyster deficiency will last.

“As far as I know, the area has been damaged. We are not sure when the boats will be back,” Barretta said.

Prices have risen for oysters in other regions in response to Gulf shortages.

“It’s a chain reaction,” Barretta explains. “The other farms are now raising prices. The person who gets hurt the most in this situation is the restaurant guest.”

Chef Scott Linquist from Como Como agrees that prices are rising – not just for oysters, but for all seafood.

“It’s not just oysters – the Gulf is one of the largest shrimp producers in the world,” says Linquist. “We don’t have shrimp shortages yet, because 99 percent of shrimp are frozen when caught. But if you miss a month because of the weather, the shortage will catch up with you at some point.”

Linquist points out that the pandemic has also played a role in supply shortages.

“That’s all: Tequila brands do not have bottle production to drain their spirits; beef prices have gone through the roof. At one point, we could not even get chicken,” he says.

As supplies become more expensive, restaurant owners must decide how to prevent their menu prices from driving customers away. Baretta decided not to buy more expensive oysters and instead price all other happy-hour snacks like chicken strips, hummus, truffle fries and guacamole at a 50 percent discount. Monty’s Raw Bar also still offers one dollar shrimp. Painkillers, the restaurant’s signature drink, are also available. (Monty’s Raw bar happy hour is offered daily from 4pm to 7pm)

And if you want oysters, Scott Linquist says Como Como still offers $ 1.50 oysters for its happy hour, which is offered Wednesday through Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Monty’s Raw Bar. 2550 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove; 305-856-3992; montysrawbar.com.

How How. 915 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-423-8004; comocomomiami.com

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