Seal pups sound like human babies crying. Highways 41 and 46 were paved originally with oyster shells. Morro Bay’s estuary hosts more bird species than anywhere in the United States. Each oyster has a different taste — some sweet, some briny. Morro Bay is refreshed every 28 hours.
These are just a few things you learn on Morro Bay’s newest tour of the back-bay oyster beds that have been producing since the 1900s.
“I love putting packages together for my customers,” said John Solu, owner of Morro Bay’s Beach Bungalow Inn & Suites.
In an economy where businesses look for their attractive edge, Solu worked with Allen Rackov’s Lost Isle Adventures, Neal and Dwight Maloney’s Morro Bay Oyster Co. and Giovanni DeGarimore’s Stax Wine Bar to create a bay cruise tour of the oyster farm, followed by a glass of wine with fresh oyster sampling.
“People are showing up. Groups can book ahead. We tour weather permitting,” Neal Maloney said.Solu got several Morro Bay hotels to participate in his package — typical of his hospitality career.
After graduating from Kent State University, Solu became a night auditor at the Maui Marriott in 1980. He’s been a controller or general manager in Santa Barbara, at the Houston Astrodome and at Hilton Head.
He excelled with the Hilton group before moving to Morro Bay in 1998. He and wife Joan purchased The Villager Motel, then called the Days Inn and Beach Bungalow. Recognitions highlighted each career move.
Maloney discovered oyster farming after studying marine biology in college in Oregon and during work-study in Mexico. He signed with the Tomales Bay Oyster Co. north of San Francisco. Immediately, circumstances sent him to the company’s Morro Bay holding. He managed four crew members while training on the job.
Neil and his dad had the chance to purchase the Morro Bay Oyster Co. in 2009.
Tomales Bay had shipped out 40,000 oysters annually. The Maloneys knew they needed to create a local market. They worked farmers markets, reached out to restaurants such as Tognazzini’s Dockside and sold fresh off the docks last summer.
Solu’s package is another vital marketing opportunity after last year’s Savor the Central Coast, sponsored by Sunset magazine, put the Morro Bay Oyster Co. on the map.
Reach Judy Salamacha at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.