Hog Island Oyster Co. will acquire neighboring business Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, which quietly closed this spring, reopening it in the summer and maintaining it as its own distinct brand.
That’s the big news out of little Marshall, California today, where Tony’s was established in 1948 by a Croatian immigrant fisherman named Anton (Tony) Konatich. His grandchildren, John and Anton, now own the business where their family has sold their local catch of crab, salmon, and herring alongside beloved barbecued oysters for almost 70 years. But the brothers, who live next door to Tony’s, are retiring, and they approached Hog Island with an exclusive offer to buy the business.
Hog Island, founded in 1983 by marine biologists planting oysters on a five-acre lease, took them up on it. By now, their business has expanded into a highly recognizable brand, operating on a 160-acre lease and serving its own restaurants in the Ferry Building, downtown Napa, and Marshall.
But rather than rebrand Tony’s, Hog Island CEO and co-founder John Finger tells Eater that the restaurant is “too iconic a place” to change. “It’s a classic place, and it’s an opportunity to pay homage to that” he says.
Hog Island will reopen Tony’s as soon as possible, then close it again for a remodel in the winter. The new Tony’s will continue to serve barbecue oysters but expand its raw menu, and diners can expect dishes like fish and chips and even a burgers — a first for Hog Island, but a standby for Tony’s. In fact, these days Hog Island has plans to farm the land as well as the ocean: It purchased a 250-acre ranch, also near Highway 1.