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Oysters Oh’ La La

Oysters Oh’ La La

An Authentic Taste of Louisiana

Melvin Holmes grew up in Amite, Louisiana in an area that was known for their oysters. Melvin spent years in an oyster plant, occasionally shucking oysters and eating them raw off of the assembly line. “His home town has an annual oyster festival,” said Melvin’s wife, Nina. “It’s a big deal there, and my husband grew to have a knack for this popular delicacy.” Melvin is a master carpenter by trade, and Nina is a marketing director. However, when COVID hit in 2020, their whole lives changed. “My hours shifted, and Melvin’s hours got cut,” said Nina. “I knew it was our time to take a leap of faith. I knew the world needed to be tasting my husband’s cooking. California did not have this kind of flavor in their palette.” Melvin didn’t initially have as much faith in the idea of opening up their own food business as Nina did, so the couple invited neighborhood friends over for a BBQ to treat them to some oysters. “They went crazy! Everyone started calling Melvin to do private parties. He was shocked. I think he just thought that I said his cooking was good because I’m his wife and I love him. When he started to hear strangers, people that have no stake in our success, say how good it was, I think it gave him more confidence.”

 


So, in 2020 Nina and Melvin began the process of opening Oysters Oh’ La La. With neither one of them having any restaurant experience, there were a few hiccups along the way. However, after learning that they could not offer their dishes out of their home, Nina and Melvin secured all of the appropriate permits and had a professional BBQ pit created for them to take Oysters Oh’ La La mobile. They launched their mobile grilling station in January 2022. Initially it was a completely family-run venture, with the couple’s 13- and 16-year-old sons helping out. Word spread quickly, however, about what Nina and Melvin were bringing to the East Bay, and their business took off faster than they ever expected. That’s when they realized they were going to need more help. “Venetta started with us because she’s a foodie,” said Nina. “You’ve never met a foodie like her; she will drive to the end of the earth for a good meal. She found us on Facebook and started tracking us down from Pittsburg back in 2020 to get oysters every time we were open. After over a year I had the premonition that she should be with us. She is a blessing and customer turned family.”

 


Oysters Oh’ La La is not your average oysters. “We are gourmet,” said Nina. “When you think of us, we are finger foods, appetizers like shots of crab bisque, hand-held oysters, shrimp skewers. We pair perfectly with wineries and breweries. That’s our niche.” Nina and Melvin felt like the food truck industry was already oversaturated with taco and BBQ options, and they didn’t want to compete. They wanted to stand in a league of their own and show the world what Melvin had to offer. “We wanted to become a community staple.” Oysters Oh’ La La has had visitors all the way from New Jersey, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Arizona, and beyond. Nina gives credit to her husband’s secret recipe: homemade garlic butter a.k.a. Liquid Gold. “It’s addicting. Everything is our own recipe, and we will have these on store shelves one day.” Oysters Oh’ La La currently offers five oyster flavor combinations. Wake Me Up is a chilled, raw oyster shooter with chopped garlic, cilantro, ginger, and a sweet and spicy sauce. “It has a little Asian kick to it,” said Nina. Pick Me Up has Liquid Gold with a cheese mix. Hook Me Up has no butter at all; it simply has a fresh squeeze of lemon, chopped garlic, and cilantro. “It’s very fresh and zesty.” Mix Me Up has bacon, cheese, Liquid Gold, green onion, and a lobster or shrimp topper. Finally, the Fix Me Up, which is everything from the Mix Me Up, as well as some hot sauce. “We are launching two new flavors in August,” said Nina. “Jack Me Up will have mozzarella, bacon, and jalapenos with Liquid Gold, and we’ll have another shooter option with white wine sauce instead of a spicy sauce.”
Melvin is the only chef in the mobile kitchen, but he’s able to cook up to six dozen oysters at one time on his three-tier BBQ. At family-friendly events, Oysters Oh’ La La also offers more kid-favorable food options such as shrimp and chicken skewers. However, those choices aren’t always necessary. “You’d be surprised,” said Nina. “At one event we had a three-year-old come up and ask for more ‘chicken in a shell.’ There’s so much happening on top that they can’t tell what it is. We’ve also converted countless people who claimed not to like oysters. Clearly, they’ve never had our oysters. We don’t hear the word ‘no.’” Nina and Melvin are also able to offer an extended menu for catering events, such as Cajun dishes like boils, jambalaya, and more. 

 

 

Foodies looking for some over-the-top oysters can find Oysters Oh’ La La at Tess’ Community Farm Kitchen, Campos Family Vineyards, and Serendipity Cellars. “We’re still trying to make a connection with Hannah Nicole Vineyards and Petersen Vineyards,” said Nina. “We want to be a part of the community here.” Their social media pages are also consistently updated with where the live action station can be found. If making it out to an event isn’t an option, Nina and Melvin just launched their GrubHub feature so that customers can order online and have oysters delivered within a 15-mile radius from Tess’ Community Farm Kitchen. “God led us to Brentwood,” said Nina. “This is our home. Everything with this experience has been by faith, and it has been truly amazing.”

 

Address: 8091 Balfour Road, Brentwood, CA 94513
Tel: (925) 529-5252
Website: www.oystersohlala.square.site

Photos by: Ron Essex Photography

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