Who are the guys in these pictures?
I guess you could say even though Elwood’s Raw Bars was founded in 2010 there is a little bit of history on how it came to be. Our grandfather Desmond “Desey” Eldredge ran the oyster business for the Gould company at the Oyster River Shanties starting in the 1940’s. He is on the left in the first picture and the other guy is Everett “Gunny” Eldredge whose dad “Gunboat Eldredge” was the chief of police in Chatham a long time ago. They are holding a box of oysters that was shipped to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War 2. The letter explains a little more on why they were shipped. The next picture is our dad Barry Eldredge along with Willard Nickerson, the “Codfather”. Willard founded and ran Nickerson’s Fish Market, along with his wife Katrina, at the Chatham Fish Pier for years. Our dad ran the fish market for him during the summers of his college years. Our dad was chief of police for many years in Chatham and also shucked on the side at many raw bars held at Chatham Bars Inn. He did this along with his dad Desmond Eldredge, Walter Love, and Walter Young.
When Nickerson’s fish market stopped doing raw bars around 2009 I thought “wow there is no one who does raw bars in Chatham anymore?” I am very busy in the summer as the manger of the Chatham Beach and Tennis Club but someone had to provide these raw bars so I figured I might as well continue on the history of my family’s association with oysters and raw bars in Chatham. I wanted to design a shucking table that was different from the boats filled with ice typically used and the idea came to me to design a table like the culling board on the boat in the picture of Willard and my dad. I also wanted to make sure there was a place for people to place their drink while they are slurping down their oysters and littlenecks. I came up with a pretty cool design that works great. I should add that my long time friend Chuck “Gonzo” Ward built the tables and his input was invaluable. The last thing I wanted was to have our shuckers wear a red and white checked gingham shirt like the ones Willard’s crew always wore in his fish market…….such an iconic look!
My sister Tanya moved back from Australia and settled back in Chatham in 2012 and she was quickly brought on board to help with the growing business. She became my partner in 2013 and we now run Elwood’s Raw Bars together!
We serve Chatham oysters thanks to John Richards and Stephen Wright of Chatham Shellfish Company. John kept the oyster business going by establishing the first and only oyster farm grant in Chatham in 1976. It is located right at the mouth where Oyster River meets Oyster Pond. The Chatham oyster features plump meats with a strong briny flavor profile. We pick them up at the Oyster River shanties ourselves so you will always be served the freshest product.
One last note that just happened at a raw bar Tanya was doing recently. A man (who didn’t know who my sister was) said he had his first Chatham oyster in the 1961 and it was shucked for him by Desey Eldredge. Tanya then said “he was my grandfather” and the guy was floored! And the story of Elwood’s Raw Bars continues on………