Jasmine Norton wants to take her love of oysters on the road.
Norton launched the Urban Oyster this spring, serving char-grilled oysters and other seafood, and she plans to take the business from stands at local farmers' markets to a food truck.
The Urban Oyster made its first appearance April 24 at a chef take-over at Truffle Butta Cafe in Towson. Now, Norton is at the Fells Point Farmers' Market every other Saturday, and will add Grow Market in Greenmount when it starts in June (also every other Saturday).
Norton offers char-grilled oysters with different flavors including "BBC" (bacon, barbecue and cheddar) and "Cheese Louise," made with several types of cheese and lemon garlic butter. She also serves "sammies" stuffed with crab cakes or codfish cakes, as well as oyster tacos. She plans to serve raw oysters occasionally and rotating specials, too.
In addition to the farmers' market appearances, Norton is planning pop-ups at Union Craft Brewing Co. (June 10) and R. House (July 3-16). She will also be serving up oysters at Artscape (July 21-23).
Norton is using the events to raise funds for a food truck, which she estimates will cost about $20,000 to buy and assemble. She hopes to have it on the road by August.
"It's like an oyster bar on wheels," she said.
Norton grew up loving oysters, and she's looking to make them more approachable — something customers can eat in T-shirts and ripped jeans.
"I've frequented Ryleigh's, the Local Oyster, Thames Street [Oyster House] and everyone else, and what I've noticed is like there's this unwritten rule of this level of prestige that you have to have to come in there," she said. "That was just something that I wasn't interested in."
After spending all day in a suit at her corporate job as a sales manager for an audiovisual equipment company, she said she wanted to be comfortable when she goes out to eat, and wants to offer customers the same experience.
"I came up with the Urban Oyster because I know that I'm not the only person that feels or thinks like this," she said.
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