The quaint town of Abbeville, 30 minutes south of Lafayette, has been a raw oyster destination since 1869, when Joseph Dupuy first traveled to Diamond Reef to harvest oysters to sell at his Vermilion riverside shop. More than a century later, two out of the three oyster houses of Abbeville — Dupuy's and Black's — have stayed remarkably consistent in the quality of their raw oysters, even while undergoing traumatic transitions in ownership. Now it's Shucks!' turn to navigate the waters of new ownership.

When Jack and Diane Phares and partner Linda Hebert sold Shucks! almost two weeks ago to the tune of $1.2 million, longtime customers and employees were skeptical. Front supervisor and 26-year employee René Hunt was afraid everything about the restaurant would change. "Usually [with] new owners it's their way and they will do what they want to do," the veteran waitress says. While Shucks! is only 12 years old, the Phareses, along with much of their staff, have been in the oyster business for decades.

They got their start at Dupuy's Oyster Shop, where Jack Phares caught the fever for the restaurant business. His love for the seafood enterprise started in the 1960s working oyster beds with his father-in-law, who at the time owned Dupuy's.

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By Tonya LaCoste
The Ind