In 1961, after nearly 30 years of working with his father and his brother, William Arthur Croxton, Sr., assumed full control of the company and concentrated its efforts in Butylo, Virginia, where RRO still retains some 100-plus acres of leased oyster ground.
Around 1994, his sons, Ryan and Travis Croxton, left their corporate jobs to relaunch Rappahannock River Oysters, the Virginia-based company founded by their great-grandfather in 1899.
Ryan, 35, and Travis, 30, farm their oysters in cages a foot off the sea floor, preserving the habitat. Their eco-consciousness is good for the oysters: sweet York River, buttery Rappahannock and boldly briny Olde Salts. They took their first oysters in the back door of Le Bernadin – Eric Ripert tasted them, loved them, ordered on the spot – so the guys packed their car full of oysters and hand delivered to NYC!
Now they're in some of the best restaurants in the country, including Le Bernadin in NYC, Equinox in Washington, DC, and Alan Wong's in Honolulu.
Jamie Leeds, chef/owner of Hank's Oyster Bar (http://www.hanksdc.com/) showered AIWF with small course after small course of oysters. After trying the three varieties of Rappahannock River oysters raw--Olde Salts, Stingrays, and York Rivers--Jamie served fried oysters with remoulade, oyster and sake shooters, barbecued oysters, and Oysters Rockefeller. All washed down with cold beer or a sprightly Muscadet and plenty of bread to mop up the briny sauces.
Jamie is also continuing a family tradition--her restaurant is named after her father, Hank, an avid fisherman and is reminiscent of the beach shack food she liked to eat during her summer on the Jersey shore.