Over the Fourth of July weekend, business partners Andy Rogers and Ryan Jolie opened their new oyster bar at 8 Railroad Ave. in Wiscasset overlooking the Sheepscot River. Jolie Rogers Raw Bar is an expansion of their oyster catering company, which the two business partners have been running since 2019.
Rogers and Jolie met working at a raw bar in Seacoast, N.H. in 2017.
“We worked pretty well together and we realized the incredible combination of our last names … and so we decided to do something with it,” Rogers said.
Jolie Rogers began as an oyster catering company that targeted high-end weddings, but for the two business partners, having a brick-and-mortar location has always been the end goal. Rogers and Jolie signed the paperwork for their company at the end of 2018 and officially started catering in 2019.
While the catering business started in New Hampshire, Rogers and Jolie were sourcing oysters from Scully’s Sea Products in Edgecomb.
“I would do the four-hour round trip once a week to drive up here … the quality that we were bringing back was just so much greater than what is just ambiently in that region,” Rogers said.
Jolie Rogers bought Scully’s Sea Products in 2022 to have as their own oyster farm and retail space. While they are their own oyster supplier, the move to Maine gave the company the opportunity to source oysters from other areas in the state, like the Cranberry Isles and Deer Isle.
“We source as directly as possible from a pretty short curated list of people that have earned our trust,” Rogers said.
Roger and Jolie, who have both worked in the restaurant and culinary industry for many years, hope to give people “the best possible oyster experience,” through both the quality and freshness of the product, and the shucking process.
Jolie Rogers makes sure every oyster is fresh through their wet storage system, where they hold oysters in the water until they are harvested daily.
“Those are our values when it comes to oysters but other than that it’s just to be good to people, do what’s right, and build the community around us up as opposed to down,” Rogers said.
Rogers and Jolie are happy with their location on the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset, as they feel it’s important to be looking at the water while eating oysters.
The raw bar’s opening weekend was “well-received,” according to Rogers and Jolie.
“Locals are really happy, and the town of Wiscasset could definitely use more new businesses and younger people coming in and creating a market,” Rogers said.
At the moment, the two business partners are keeping their focus on the raw bar.
“We are just existing and working on all the avenues that we are currently pursuing,” Jolie said.
As well as serving oysters, Jolie Rogers Raw Bar serves littleneck clams and other snacks like scallop ceviche, tuna tartare, and a seasonal salad. For drinks, customers can enjoy draft beer, wine, and cocktails.
In order to maintain quality at the raw bar, Jolie Rogers has stopped taking catering inquiries for 2023, but are already booking up for 2024. The business partners’ focus for catering events is weddings for 100-200 people.
Rather than shucking the oysters and then leaving them for guests to grab, Rogers and Jolie shuck in front of the guests and often engage in conversation with them.
“A big part of it for guests is that they get to talk to us and we’re very knowledgeable about the products, and they get to pepper us with all their different oyster questions,” Rogers said.
Both Rogers and Jolie have learned to shuck oysters through their years of working in kitchens. Rogers has also competed in oyster shucking competitions. He is ranked sixth in the country among competition shuckers.
For Rogers, shucking is the perfect blend of back-of-house and front-of-house work.
“My heart is always in the back of house, and being a part of the kitchen team, but when you’re a shucker you get to be out front at the same time,” he said.
Rogers’ and Jolie’s mutual love for oysters and shucking is a benefit to their working relationship.
“One of the most important things about getting into business with somebody is that you want to have the same sense of humor, for when things aren’t going great, and I think we have that,” Rogers said.
For more information, go to jolierogersrawbar.com or find the business on Instagram.