Kent Carr Seafood: Maintaining the family business of oyster harvesting

Kent Carr, a fourth generation waterman, readies oysters for shipping to local restaurants and as far away as Florida. (photo by Denise Hilton)

Over the years, Kent Carr has figured out exactly how he likes his oysters prepared.

As owner of Kent Carr Seafood, a supplier of oysters in the Hampton Roads area, the waterman is surrounded by oysters on a daily basis.

He started in the oyster business when he was around 14 years old, the fourth generation in his family to do so, and he says Kent Carr Seafood is basically a one-man operation.

“You have to put a lot of hours in by yourself,” he says, adding he spends a bit of time on one of his four boats harvesting the oysters, followed by a few hours of shucking and packaging and, of course, some well spent time doing paperwork.

“A lot of times, I put close to 20 hours in, seven days a week,” he says.

His oysters can be found in various Hampton Roads restaurants and across the country, including Florida, Boston and Chicago.

Carr shucks, packages and sells oysters year-round, which he says wasn’t the case 20 years ago, when business wasn’t as good in the summer.

Today, Carr leases about 400 acres from the James River Bridge to the Mariners’ Museum, a “prime area” for growing oysters, he says.

He also has an oyster ground in the Mobjack Bay at the mouth of Pepper Creek and on the Severn River.

Carr is in the right place to run his business. A 2016 report by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found that Virginia was first on the East Coast for eastern oyster production and first in the U.S. for hard clam production. The state has eight regions in which oysters grow, and there’s a dedicated Virginia Oyster Trail designed for folks who want to hit them all and try different flavors. Oyster festivals such as those in Chincoteague and Urbanna have been traditions for years.

Carr says the state has reasonable regulations when it comes to oyster
harvesting, and he is grateful to the city of Newport News, which repaired and expanded parts of the Seafood Industrial Park, located off Jefferson Avenue.

“It’s a real good thing for us,” he says.

In addition to his daily harvesting, Carr in March opened a retail market in Oyster Point, located at 11861-H Canon Boulevard, where he sells oysters, scallops, shrimp and a variety of fresh fish.

“I feel that I have one of the best products on the market as far as the quality and the packaging and the whole nine yards on that,” he said.

While Carr eats oysters only a few times a year, he knows he likes them fried, and his 90-year-old father’s recipe is his favorite.

“[When] you’re around them all the time, after a certain while, you get tired of eating them,” he says with a laugh.

Kent Carr Seafood
Contact: Kent Carr
Address: 11861-H Canon Blvd., Newport News, VA 23606
Phone: 804-832-7485

About Marie Albiges 8 Articles
Marie Albiges is a freelance journalist, covering local government, business, economic development and health. She is a 2014 graduate of Christopher Newport University, where she served as news editor of the Captain’s Log, the weekly student-run newspaper. She likes to write stories that start social, cultural and meaningful conversations. She has been writing for the Oyster Pointer since 2012.

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