The Whitstable Oyster Company can trace its origins back to the 1400s; indeed, it is one of the oldest companies in Europe and has a long, rich history of farming the famous Royal Whitstable Native Oyster. But Whitstable oysters go even further back, almost two thousand years, to when the Romans discovered them and, regarding them as a delicacy, shipped them back live to Rome. More recently, and at the company’s peak in the 1850s, it was sending as many as 80 million oysters a year to Billingsgate fish market. By then the plentiful oyster had become the food of the poor.
A large fleet of Whitstable smacks was moored off the beach to dredge the oyster beds and the company flourished, but from the turn of the century a number of factors conspired against the industry – cold winters, the two World Wars, the great flood of 1953 and, not least, the introduction of the prawn cocktail.
In 1978 Barrie Green and his business partner John Knight took over the Whitstable Oyster Company. By this time it was practically defunct, with large debts and an unfashionable product. Oyster production had hit an all time low and one part-time dredger was left to sell a few dozen oysters wholesale per week. Shortly afterwards the next generation, Richard and James Green, opened the fish restaurant in the old oyster stores and commenced production of the famous Whitstable Native.
More than thirty years later, we’ve come a long way and are hugely proud of what we have achieved. We are still a family-run business and the world-renowned Native Oyster is once again a cherished food. We have invested heavily in the oyster beds and have created sustainable methods of production that guarantee their future. This was recognised in 1997 when the beds were granted Protected Geographical Status by the European Union.
From the restaurant business we have developed other ventures including the Whitstable Brewery, the Hotel Continental and the East Quay Bar and restaurant. Today, together with more than 150 staff, we work tirelessly to sustain what is widely hailed by food critics as one of the country’s finest seafood restaurants. We look forward to welcoming you soon