Back when the coronavirus shutdown was in full effect and all four of his Good Eats Kitchen locations were reduced to delivery only, Boyer Derise says the seed was planted.

And it sprouted like this: Would people buy frozen oysters already shucked and buttered?

The well-known Lafayette chef was serious about this. There’s not really an e-commerce product like it, he noted, and there’s definitely not a retail product like it. And after being locked down for months while business was down at Good Eats Kitchen, Bayou Carlin Oyster Co. was born in October as a supplement to his company, he noted, which was in the midst of a pivot.

“This is a passion of mine,” Derise said. “We grill oysters at the house pretty regularly. Often it’s at my in-laws for Sunday dinners with family. One of my passions is to help out the community and really promote Cajun culture and our way of life. It’s an opportunity to take what I have and bring a new product to market.”

The oysters come in four varieties: andouille cream cheese, barbecue butter, caramelized onion and bacon butter and garlic Parmesan butter. And thanks to some connections in Austin he was able to do some test deliveries to determine the most efficient way to get the product shipped while staying frozen: two-day shipping packed in dry ice.

And just for the record, he knows there are no actual oysters in Bayou Carlin, also known as the Delcambre Canal, which connects Lake Peigneur to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s merely a tribute to his hometown of Delcambre.

“You don't have to shuck it. You don't have to make the butter,” he said. “You could do it in landlocked Montana. I just see it as a great opportunity. I think the retail is a big potential because there is no product like it on the market. But e-commerce wise, I just think it's a great opportunity to spread Louisiana's culture, the food that we're used to here.”

It's the latest move for the head of Good Eats Kitchen, which is now down to two stores after two of his Baton Rouge locations were closed following the COVID-19 shutdown. He kept open the Corporate Boulevard location — the highest performing store of the three there — along with the Oil Center location in Lafayette, but now it’s the company’s time to pivot to more e-commerce not only in those two markets but eventually to other markets along the Gulf Coast.

It launched its shipping model the first week of October as well and is doing a statewide pilot while developing a new website, he said, despite taking a hit when it launched the week Hurricane Delta struck Louisiana.

Once it is ready by early next year, then GEK will enter markets in Houston, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, he said.

“There were lots of sleepless nights, lots of weight gain and more whiskey consumed that I’d like to admit,” Derise said of the coronavirus shutdown. “We learned a lot. We never stopped evolving and reacting. Up until now, we’ve been a retail brick-and-mortar-focused business with a small e-commerce component. That’s definitely flipping.”

Another casualty of the pandemic? The company’s plans for a distribution center. Derise said he was a week away from signing a purchase agreement for property in Broussard to build what would eventually be called Mise en Place Foods (French term for everything in its place) with Good Eats Kitchen being its first customer.

Now with the shift to more e-commerce, that part of his business is a little more undetermined. If the shift is successful, plans could include building the facility in 2021, he said.

Acadiana Business Today: Good Eats Kitchen owner brings new item to market: grilled oyster kits shipped to your door

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