Coming out of lockdown, Hannah Woods has a smile on her face.
Woods, with her business partners Louise Murphy (her mum) and Thelma Williams, purchased the Dawsons Oysters business at Warners Bay in May.
Murphy runs the long-time family business Sea & Land Insurance Solutions, and Williams works there as well. Woods has taken the day-to-day reins at Dawsons.
Miraculously, except for the first weeks of lockdown, the business has traded close to normal through the winter. They are keenly awaiting a busy summer season that kicks off with Melbourne Cup celebrations and runs strong through the Christmas holidays.
"We've gotten through this," Woods says of lockdown period. "I think we are pretty solid. We are pretty excited everything is opening back up."
Over the past two months they've been processed more than 4000 dozen Sydney rock oysters, all grown in the Karuah, Port Stephens and Cromartys Bay areas.
In terms of basics, not much has changed. The new owners have kept the team of Brett and Grant Dawson, two of the best oyster shuckers in the region, if not further afield. And they have kept the same long-time suppliers.
Dawsons delivers oysters seven days a week to more than 40 restaurants and clubs in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, including the fish co-ops, Scratchleys, Kingfish, Noahs and some right on their own block - Brown Sugar, Canon and the Warners Bay Hotel. Their oysters also reach another 30 restaurants in the Hunter Valley.
Dawsons Oysters began in 1964. And the reputation of their family business has grown ever since.
Woods randomly discovered the business was for sale, and her family (her mum grew up at Speers Point) had been customers of Dawsons for many years.
The women met the Dawsons and made an offer. "We kind of got a good feeling of who they were as people, how they had grown the business," Woods said. "We had a good gut feeling."
Woods, who comes to the business with strong experience in hospitality, is overseeing a few updates: the retail shop at 67 King Street, Warners Bay, which includes prawn and fish products, is currently being renovated (reopening on Monday, October 18), and the Dawsons Oysters website is being revamped (it will include online ordering).
Dawsons is still taking orders and doing deliveries even with the storefront closed.
Woods began home delivery of oysters during the lockdown, and said they will continue to offer the service going forward. Deliveries are free for orders over $50.
Large plate grade Sydney rock oysters are currently $24 a dozen, and the smaller bistro grade Sydney rock oysters are $18 a dozen.
Dawsons Oysters 4948 9608
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