PACIFIC COUNTY — Willapa Bay oysters are so popular two towns claim to be the Oyster Capital of the World. Whether South Bend or Oysterville can truly lay claim to the title is a discussion for a later date. What’s undeniable is the effect the bivalve has on the bay, the economy and the dinner table.

            Ekone Oyster Company in Bay Center, Wash., has more than 350 acres of Willapa Bay tideland producing oysters. The company started in 1982 with just Nick and Joanne Jambor and a homemade smokehouse.

            Fast forward 31 years, and nearly 50 employees work for the company producing smoked oysters, shucked oysters, in-shell oysters and other products fresh from Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

            Ekone ships year ’round. Shucked oysters are probably the biggest seller by volume, Nick said, but smoked oysters are popular too.

            Jambor said his favorite way to cook oysters is lightly pan fried. He suggests par boiling the oysters before frying them. “It firms up the meat,” he said. Bring the oysters just to boiling then pull them out.

            Ekone is located at 378 Bay Center Road; the scenic drive along the water is spectacular. Or call 888-875-5494 or log on to http://ekoneoyster.com. Nick and his crew can get you set up with oysters, albacore or sturgeon.

            Goose Point Oysters is another family operation that started small, with a few acres of tideland and deliveries straight from the grower. That was in 1975.

            Now the company employs 70 keeping its 500-acre farm and 15,000-square-foot facility humming along.

            Oyster Shooters in a shot glass, Steamers in 5 and Mussels in 5, fresh live oysters and shucked oysters are some of the products that keep Goose Point popular with travelers on US 101 and Internet shoppers alike.

            It’s easy to spot on the highway at the north end of the Niawiakum River Bridge. You can pick up oysters at the plant (7081 Niawiakum St.) or order online at http://goosepoint.com.

            Check out the website’s recipe section for oyster serving ideas.

            East Point Seafood in South Bend, Wash., has been processing seafood since 1942. Manager Keith Adams said the company employs up to 50 at the peak season.

            While East Point sells oysters, it is known for its Pacific canned shrimp.

            It’s sold all over America under the Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, Trader Joes and other labels, Adams said.

            East Point also sells smoked salmon, smoked albacore tuna, oysters in the shell and out of the shell, clams, fresh fish and Nelson Crab products.

            You can find East Point at 313 E. Robert Bush Drive (US 101.

            The company’s retail store has been in operation about 20 years. Seafoodies can stop in or order online at www.eastpointseafood.com.

            “The retail store is doing very well,” Adams said. “It’s the best year we’ve ever had.” The cannery is also doing well, he added.

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