The Brothers Behind New York City's Waterfront Restaurant Boom


Via CNN, written by Olivia Camerini 

(CNN) — Even though Manhattan is an island, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the interior of the city and forget that it is, in fact, a waterfront city.
If you're looking for a change of pace from the somewhat chaotic and slightly intimidating drinking and dining scene in New York City, you don't have to go farther than the waterfronts to find an entirely new experience.
Restaurateurs Alex and Miles Pincus have changed the way New Yorkers drink and eat by tapping into the city's waterfronts and creating scenes where you can enjoy the tranquility of being on the water.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Manhattan was surrounded by oyster barges that, as Alex explains, "were basically saloons on the water where you could go for a beer and oysters." Inspired by this concept, the brothers set out to bring the city's drinking and dining scene back to the waterfronts.
It begins with a schooner


It all started with a 72-year-old codfish schooner that would eventually become a restaurant and oyster bar called Grand Banks. The old sailors' bunks became the kitchen, and the deck was outfitted with two nautical-themed bars and a dining area. Clearly, the concept worked: Even on a weeknight, you may find yourself waiting in a line that extends down the pier.
The nautical-inspired cocktail list includes a wide variety of liquors and flavors and the prices are pretty standard for New York nightlife, around $15 a drink. If you're a tequila drinker, try the Fracas (it includes pineapple and lime along with a smoky mezcal, which creates an interesting contrast). On a brutally hot day, cool off with The Fisher's Country Club (gin, grapefruit, and lemon) or a Skipper Key (rose mixed with strawberry, cucumber and lemon).
Aside from the oyster selection that changes daily, Grand Banks also is known for offering one of the best lobster rolls in Manhattan -- they've truly mastered the mayo-to-lobster ratio.
Other standouts include sea scallops served with bacon and tomato compote, Montauk sea bream ceviche and tomato-and-watermelon salad seasoned with mint, basil and coconut oil. Everything is great to share --and even better when accompanied by a side order of the seaweed salt french fries.
Expansion projects


But the best thing to do with a successful concept is iterate it. Alex and Miles Pincus are continuing to expand New York City's waterfront drinking and dining options, opening two new hotspots just this summer: Island Oyster on Governors Island and Pilot in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Besides being a way to enjoy the New York waterfront, Island Oyster also holds the distinction of being the first restaurant on Governors Island.
While there are a few other venues that offer a waterfront dining experience such as The Frying Pan and Pig Beach, Island Oyster is unique because in addition to great food and drinks, it offers a true island experience. Since it is a ferry ride away from Manhattan, it fosters a much more relaxed vibe and is an all-day destination (perfect for a staycation for New Yorkers or a day trip for visitors).
Alex Pincus, who describes that their business model has been "to do what we think is cool and feels good," has transformed a former Lenape Native American Indian hunting and fishing ground into a 32,000 square foot venue and unusual dining destination with the help of Eric Cheong (designer of the Ace Hotel Properties).
The gorgeous space boasts two 50-foot bars and tables so close to the water you may even find yourself in a splash zone; along with recreation areas (including activities such as corn hole and ping pong) and a coffee shop.
This location was also an oyster bed, and the brothers liked the idea of bringing the oysters back to where they came from. Alex describes Island Oyster as a place where you feel relaxed and totally alone while technically inside one of the largest cities in the world. Island Oyster is set to be open until October, and should definitely be on your NYC hit list.
Meanwhile, if you want to try out the Grand Banks concept experience from Brooklyn, the Pincuses have transformed Pilot, a schooner built in 1924, into a bar and restaurant docked on Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6. Pilot has all the same charm as Grand Banks and dawns many special details such as the mosaic-laid tiles in the bathroom. Once built to be the fastest sailboat in the world, Pilot is now serving up the same level of Instagram-worthy food and drinks as Grand Banks against panoramic views of downtown Manhattan.
Two dishes that particularly stand out from Pilot's menu are the Calmar a la Plancha and the Softshell Crab Po'boy. The first is fresh grilled Montauk squid served over a bed of arugula with avocadoes and tomatoes. The Softshell Crab Po'boy (inspired by brothers' New Orleans roots) might take you all day to eat.
And in case you haven't noticed the theme, Pilot also has nautical-themed cocktails: the Life at Sea (vodka, mint, blackberries and lime juice) and the Spirit Animal (light rum, Aperol, coconut, lemon and strawberry).
Like a love of boats, hospitality runs in the Pincus family. Miles and Alex grew up in New Orleans, where their father ran well known restaurants restaurants and hotels such as Royal Orleans. Their father is currently the CEO/GM of Hotel Monteleone, which is also the location of the famous Carousel Bar. (The oyster bar at Monteleone in the '80s and '90s even featured an oyster bar in the shape of a boat...hmm, inspiration?)
While Alex was studying architecture at Columbia and Miles began working on a sailboat, they started spending more time out on the water and realized how largely untapped the city's waterfronts were. Their first venture was a sailing school and summer camp on the Upper West Side called Atlantic Yachting that is still in operation today..
Island Oyster and Pilot, like Grand Banks before them, are redefining New York's dining scene by offering true waterfront city experiences. Whether you live in the city or you're just visiting, all of these venues transport you out of Manhattan's chaos and allow you to appreciate the city's waterways.

The Absolute Best Waterfront Restaurant in New York


This bar and restaurant is set on the gorgeous Sherman Zwicker, a 1942-built schooner that’s said to be the largest wooden ship in New York City. On the deck, you’ll be surrounded by finance workers and early-30s money types on Tinder dates. But they’re easy to make peace with when you consider the setting: The boat rocks gently as ships pass by, the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. (Also: While you might have to grab your check quick to avoid getting soaked, it’s particularly exciting to watch a storm approach from the west here.) Order the heirloom-tomato salad; the thin and crispy seaweed-salt-dusted fries with spiced ketchup and sage aioli; thatlobster roll; and, of course, the oysters. Most dishes are charmingly brought up through a dumbwaiter from the below-deck kitchen, which only adds to the experience. And Grand Banks is community-minded: It operates in partnership with the Maritime Foundation, and the team behind it work with Billion Oyster Project here and at their other projects (Pilot, Island Oyster). Make reservations to avoid a wait, and maybe bring a Dramamine. (April to October.)

Fabien Cousteau

In celebration of World Oceans Day, join World Team Now and Fabien Cousteau for “Sustainable Solutions: Ocean Opportunities & Small Island States” (a United Nations (UN) - afforded multi-stakeholder partnership made possible by the Paris Agreements on Sustainable Development Goals). We'll hear Cousteau discuss his work for community engagement and education regarding ocean protection, as well as his work protecting and restoring corals, sharks, mangroves and sea turtle populations – as means for protecting our environment, humanity and the planet.

9pm, June 9th at Grand Banks

Liya Kebede

Via W Magazine

It’s a sunny morning in May, and Liya Kebede is perched on a concrete ledge on the Manhattan waterfront. We are right next to Grand Banks, the ever-popular boat-turned-bar that has over the years become the go-to spot for finance guys and downtown girls alike to grab a lazy Sunday drink. But we are not here to talk rose or debate the merits of Navy Point versus Montauk oysters. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“One of the number one killers of women still today is pregnancy and childbirth complications,” Kebede begins, emphatically. “These are all things that are all things that are ninety percent preventable and treatable because really they are dying from things that are very simple, and they are dying because they don’t have access to any kind of basic medical care or trained nurse or caregiver, really.

Kebede is describing the impetus behind her non-profit organization, the Lemlem Foundation, formerly known as the LK Foundation, which the model founded in 2005 in an effort to help the fight to combat maternal mortality, after years of working as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador.

“We wanted to focus on raising awareness of the issue because it was an issue that had been going on for so long, but not really getting the attention it deserved,” said Kebede, who herself is a mother of two. “There was a lot of work to be done around that and letting people know so that it becomes part of the agenda for governments and international donors.”

The organization works to help women in African artisan communities—including Ethiopia, where Kebede was born—by promoting access to healthcare and economic opportunities, also working in tandem with leading African non-profit Amref Health Africa.

Maybe they live really far away, or there is nothing close to them, and by the time they decide they need to get to the hospital, they are in delivery mode. It’s all of those things that endanger a mom during those very dangerous moments in life.”

“They have a goal of training thousands of midwives, which we want to be a part of, so we’re helping them with that,” Kebede explained. This year, the organization has also launched a new investment to train women artisans and entrepreneurs in technical, business and leadership skills to improve their opportunities within Africa’s growing fashion industry.

It only makes sense, then, that working in tandem with the foundation is Lemlem, Kebede’s clothing company now entering it’s 10th year. Like the foundation itself, the brand came from Kebede’s own personal experiences and desire to make a positive change.

“It was really one of those right place, right time, where there was a solution to the problem I was looking at,” she said. “I was walking around the city in Ethiopia, and visited all of these incredible weavers who were really struggling to find work or a market for their goods because of Westernization and fast fashion.. I just thought this was a feel-good way of creating a market for them, improving their skill, and bringing a new product to the marketplace for the consumer that has a story and more of a 360 product that is also changing the lives of people and has a lot more levels, and at the same time just something that you really love and are attracted to.”

All of Lemlem’s offerings, which now include clothing, shoes, accessories, and home goods, are hand-made by artisan studios in Africa, with a focus on expanding production and job opportunities across the continent, as well as keeping the craft of traditional weaving alive. The brand is the foundation’s cornerstone donor, providing five percent of all direct sales and proceeds from special collaborations.

What’s more, for Mother’s Day, the brand has created special tote bags featuring signature handwoven striped fabric accents, currently available for $20 on, with all proceeds going directly to the foundation.

As for Kebede’s own Mother’s Day plans? “Usually the kids just make me breakfast, which I think is kind of perfect.” She pauses. “In bed. Can’t forget that part.”

The 19 Best Bars in New York City

Via Condé Nast Traveler, written by Pilar Guzman:

3/19 Grand Banks
It’s hard to imagine that it’s taken this long for a restaurant or bar—in this case a chic-yet-cheerful oyster bar-plus concept—to take full advantage of Manhattan’s waterfront. When brothers Alex and Miles Pincus and nightclub veteran Adrien Gallo docked the historic Sherman Zwicker schooner at Pier 25 in the summer of ’14, they transformed the west side’s dockyard ruins into an instant warm-weather institution. Whereas so many outdoor waterfront establishments fail with their overwrought raw seafood towers and ersatz nautical décor, Grand Banks nails it with its south of France by way of Nantucket sensibility: Think Provencal yellow-and-white striped awnings and a just elevated enough menu of oysters, lobster rolls and fries, and carafes of easy house rosés and whites on tap. On a summer evening at the golden hour, there isn’t a better place to be in Manhattan than sitting at a tiny white enameled two-top and washing down perfectly plump Peconic oysters by the dozen with Sancerre served in a Duralex glass. The season runs from May to October and those of us who work nearby milk it, all bundled up in scarves, to the bitter end. The best kept secret is weekday lunch, which is served Wednesday through Friday. That and the fries, of course. –P.G.

Oysters Are Making a Comeback in the Polluted Waters Around New York City


Via The Guardian, written by Edward Helmore:

A coalition of bivalve enthusiasts is trying to revive oyster farming in water that is beset by trash and raw sewage
The oysters in the Hudson River around the Statue of Liberty are some of the plumpest and fastest growing Crassostrea virginica in the whole of New York harbor. Fitting it should be that way, at least in contrast to the East River, between Manhattan and Brooklyn, where untreated effluent is allowed to flow out during storms in what New York authorities describe as a “rain event”.
But even plump “liberty” oysters are inedible, says Peter Malinowski, founder and director of the Billion Oyster Project, a four-year-old program that hopes to restore oysters throughout an estuary that once sustained 220,000 acres of oyster beds, producing enough bivalves to sustain early settlers to Manhattan island. The mollusk population here used to supply half of the world’s harvested oysters.
This bay, nestled in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, is now one of the most unappealing environments for any kind of aquatic life. The city’s treatment facilities are able to process 1bn gallons a day. More than a quarter of an inch of rain and as much as 66m gallons of untreated waste water from all over Brooklyn flushes into the river every 24 hours.
“Same volume as the Empire State Building,” Malinowski offers alarmingly. And not just organic material, which settles on the bottom. “Baby wipes, condoms, dime bags, plastic bags full of dog shit. Yet the water is safe to swim by Environmental Protection Agency standards.”
Malinowski’s sense of outrage is palpable. He lifts a basket of oysters up out of the water close to Brooklyn’s main storm outflow. “If you walked into Central Park one day and you couldn’t go in because it was full of human shit and trash everyone would freak out and it wouldn’t happen again. But because there’s not enough people advocating for the water, so it’s OK to pour sewage into it.”
The 34-year-old environmentalist comes from a family of oystermen on Fisher’s Island (population 236), a fingerling of land wedged between the eastern end of Long Island and Connecticut. It’s his plan – one supported by a variety state and federal bodies as well as New York restaurant owners and chefs – to bring about the revival of the oyster beds.
The plan of action is to collect oyster shells from the city’s restaurants and use them to create reefs for oyster spat – fertilized eggs – to fix one to. Without anything to attach to, the microscopic spat simply fall into the mud and organic material and perish.
The one thing oyster spat love most to attach to is old oyster shells, which New York City restaurants have in abundance. The project runs a service to collect oyster shells from restaurants around the city that are used to help form habitats.
Chef Kerry Heffernan, who opened Eleven Madison Park as executive chef, is a keen supporter of the project. He is now Executive Chef at Grand Banks, a popular oyster bar aboard a fine wooden-hulled oyster schooner, Sherman Zwicker, moored on the east side of Manhattan.
Heffernan grows oysters off the end of his dock at home in Sag Harbor. For him, like many chefs, sustainability and ecological revitalization have become part of a professional passion and personal responsibility. While the New York Harbor oysters are unlikely to be edible in the near future – at least until the city stops releasing untreated effluent into the harbor – the goal currently is habitat rehabilitation and conservation.
“If you’re farming them, every oyster you eat is great for the environment,” says Heffernan. Kelp, too, is great – [it] metabolizes life out of minerals and sunlight. So marine-based plant life is the next big thing for us, incorporating kelp and seaweeds into the American diet.”
Restoring the beds gives other species, from blue crabs to shrimp and anemones, a chance to come back too. Without oysters, New York Harbor’s ecosystem lacks a crucial element. One way to create beds is to use pieces of porcelain that have been recycled from nearly 5,000 toilets from New York City’s public schools.
“If you restore the oyster habitats, that supports all the other animals native to New York Harbor,” says Malinowski. “It’s slowly getting better, and it’s certainly way better than it was 30 years ago and better even than ten years ago.”
New York was not alone in allowing its oyster beds to die out, and it’s not alone in attempting a large scale restoration. Chesapeake Bay in Maryland was once one of the richest producers in the country, until it was allowed to fall into ruin as a result of overfishing and pollution. There are similar projects in several states that border the Gulf of Mexico.
But unlike Chesapeake Bay or Gulf coast restorations, the New York project has no commercial value. But it does have value to the ecosystem.
From Malinkowski’s perspective, the goal to restore the harbor’s ecosystem to the point where it sustains wild oysters fit for consumption is not in itself desirable.
“I don’t think people should eat wild animals,” he offers. “That part of the equation, our relationship to nature, is over. But they have a more important job to do – and that’s filtrating water, providing habitat for other animals and building the ecosystem.”
But the climb back is steep. Chesapeake’s native oyster population is estimated at 1% of historic levels; New York’s is barely a fraction of what Henry Hudson would have seen in 1609 when, entering New York Harbor, he had to navigate a half moon around the reefs.
The relentless exploitation of the oysters meant that by 1906, New Yorkers had eaten every last one. The reefs were dredged up or covered in silt, and the water quality was too poor to support any kind of life. The last commercial bed closed in 1918. Ironically, it was the construction of a new aqueduct, bringing a copious supply of freshwater from the Catskills, that doomed the oyster.
“The aqueduct bringing freshwater from the Catskills brought as much freshwater as it wanted, so they flushed as many toilets as they wanted and all that went into the rivers,” says Malinowski. “So when they got sick from cholera and typhoid they blamed the oysters, not thinking that they were putting raw sewage on their food supply.”
The passage of the Clean Water Act of 1968 began the process of cleaning up the harbor – a process that may now accelerate as successive city administrations recognize the value of the city’s waterways both for transportation and as part of a modern city’s responsibility to the environment.
In New York’s case, the urgency is underscored by climate change. As Hurricane Sandy in 2012 illustrated, the city is vulnerable, and particularly in low-lying reaches in Brooklyn and Queens. Various projects are being pursued, including islands and tidal barrages.
Staten Island, once rich with oyster habitats and hit hard by Sandy’s storm surge, is to receive a $60m federal grant to construct a 13,000-foot-long oyster reef. This so-called “living breakwater” is designed to integrate live oysters into its surface. Not only will the oysters filtrate the water, but as the breakwaters grow larger, they will provide greater storm protection.
But can oysters begin to help redress the natural balance? The bivalves can clear dirty water and bring back other species; they can also help to engage young people in marine science, as Malinowski hopes to do.
Even as oysters are found non-edible, new uses for them crop up. Such is the potential that the concept of oyster-tecture – the use of oysters as an architectural resource – was developed by landscape architect Kate Orff and presented in a 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
But while oysters help filter water, they do not themselves consume nitrates produced by human effluent or intensive agriculture. They do, however, help consume algae that flourish as a result of over-nitrification in the water column.
Founder Alex Pincus, a keen supporter of the oyster project, speeds the company speedboat to one of the beds in lower Brooklyn. Pincus notes oyster aquaculture is a rapidly evolving business, with the numbers of US growers multiplying and techniques for production becoming more sophisticated.
Further afield, out in Jamaica Bay by John F Kennedy airport, the Billion Oyster team have added nearly 50,000 adult oysters, making it the largest single installation for breeding oysters in the city.
But before the project’s efforts can hope to produce self-sustaining oyster beds, the city will have to do more to clean up its harbor. Oysters may not object to effluent, but it’s an unnerving aspect of New York life that so much of the city’s waste is still dumped into the harbor. (The Clean Water Act only banned such discharge “where possible”.)
Thankfully, it hasn’t rained much recently – the Northeast US has been in drought since June – and while the greenish water doesn’t look too inviting, it is at least still warm.
“When we put the nursery in, the Navy Yard had just found there were no complex organisms living in the space. No crabs, no shrimp, no fish: nothing,” says Malinowski.
“We put in the nursery in 2013 and within a matter of months it had been colonized by all these different animals. Now we get anemones, crabs, anthropods, fish, worms, spongers. And the oysters are growing like crazy.”

Liz McEnaney


The SS Columbia Project is restoring the 114-year-old steamboat Columbia and reviving the great tradition of day excursion vessels on the Hudson River. Once in service, the boat will be a new culture venue on the Hudson River -- a floating platform for arts, education and entertainment that reconnects New York City to the Hudson Valley. 

Please join us for a talk about the history of the Hudson River Day Line boats, and learn more about what it takes to bring a 1902-built steamboat back to life. Over the past 18 months, the boat has traveled over 250 nautical miles, glided across three rivers -- Detroit, Maumee, and Buffalo -- and crossed Lake Erie. She has passed the shoreline of three states -- Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- before landing for the first time in New York State. Columbia is now docked in the Buffalo River at Silo City.  

The presentation will be given by Executive Director Liz McEnaney, an architectural historian and preservationist who also teaches at NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. 

Liz is an architectural historian and preservationist. She has curated museum exhibitions, developed site interpretation plans, and advocated for the waterfront issues in both New York City and the Hudson Valley.

Prior to finding her sea legs, Liz was Executive Director of the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation and worked for artist Maya Lin’s What is Missing? Foundation. She has also been involved in Hudson Valley-focused initiatives. She produced the documentary film Hudson Rising and worked with the Commissioner of the New York State Quadricentennial Commission.

Liz is an adjunct professor in the Urban Design and the Historic Preservation program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She also teaches in the Sustainable Urban Design Program at NYU Tandon Engineering.

Lauren Elachi


Landscape Designer Lauren Elachi will discuss Living Breakwaters, an oyster centric landscape intervention to protect Staten Island from future storms.  

The Living Breakwaters concept design was developed by the SCAPE team for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design (RBD) Initiative, and was one of six winning proposals in this global competition. SCAPE’s layered approach overlays coastal resiliency infrastructure with habitat enhancement techniques and environmental stewardship models, linking in-water protective interventions to on-shore resiliency and community engagement.

Proposed for the South Shore of Staten Island, Living Breakwaters employs a necklace of breakwaters to buffer neighborhoods from wave damage and erosion while providing a more biodiverse habitat for juvenile fish, oysters, and other organisms. This living infrastructure is paired with social resiliency frameworks in adjacent neighborhoods on-shore to help increase awareness of risk, empower citizens, and engage local schools in waterfront education. The proposal was awarded to New York State and is currently being implemented by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery with $60 million of CDBG-DR funding allocated for this project, currently in the schematic design process.

Lauren Elachi is a Landscape Designer focusing on regional mapping projects and community resiliency. She holds a Master in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. Using her fascination with infrastructure to drive her design work, Lauren has previous experience working on conceptual energy master planning projects for the Taiwan Strait, as well as smaller civic landscape and artistic installations in New York City. She was awarded the Penny White Grant from Harvard University to study nuclear waste disposal in Finland and Sweden, and has published on the political economy of plants.

Michi Jigarjian and Libby Pratt


New Draft Collective is a New York-based duo made up of Michi Jigarjian and Libby Pratt that operates as an artistic practice, facilitator, and publisher; and focuses particularly on reinvigorating and retelling maritime history and culture within a contemporary context.

Jigarjian and Pratt will be speaking about their recent event based work Re-Current which explores the ever changing sociopolitical and physical landscape of lower Manhattan and its surrounding waters.

Second in its series, Re-Current is an event based work which explores the ever changing sociopolitical and physical landscape of lower Manhattan and its surrounding waters. On October 2nd 2016 New Draft Collective hosted a three hour sail with 40 passengers aboard the schooner Pioneer. The curated program included sound performances from land to water, conversations led by artists and curators which uncovered the diverse histories of the New York Harbor’s shoreline along with moments of recreation and leisure. Anchored by the performance piece “Voices Heard” the day’s events allowed for moments of reflective pause engaging the participatory passengers in a collective shared experience. The departure from the city allowed for new perspectives of the land bringing to light a myriad historical exploration of cultural and physical evolution of the New York Harbor. 


Pete Malinowski


Join Pete Malinowski, director of the Billion Oyster Project (BOP), as he paints a vivid picture of the oyster life of New York Harbor. Using the BOP oyster seeding cages hung over the side of our ship, Pete will explain how the harbor can be populated with a billion oysters by 2030.

Pete has taught marine science and aquaculture at New York Harbor School since 2008 and since 2010 has served as the school’s Aquaculture Program Director. In 2014 he was named Director of the Billion Oyster Project, which he developed with Murray Fisher. Pete has played a lead role in local marine restoration efforts, notably in connection with the Oyster Restoration Research Project (ORRP) in New York Harbor. Prior to joining Harbor School, he worked as a tall ship educator and deckhand at Ocean Classroom Foundation, and as a seasonal foreman at the Fishers Island Oyster Farm. Pete holds a B.A. from Vassar College, and is a Coast Guard licensed captain.

Lars Viola


An oyster is a truly a function of time and place, a reflection of where it was grown and how it lived. Join oyster expert Lars Viola, and explore a selection of sustainable oysters from both coasts. Learn how to safely and cleanly shuck a variety of breeds, understand their provenance and peculiarities, and delight in their unique flavors as you taste the fruits of your labor.

This event is sponsored by the Maritime Foundation, and is free and open to the public. RSVP required.

Bren Smith & Brendan Coffey


Learn about (and taste!) the food grown on revolutionary 3-D ocean farms with Bren Smith and Brendan Coffey, founders of GreenWave.  GreenWave helps commercial fishermen redefine their place within an industry struggling to adapt to the realities of climate change and depleted global fisheries.  Farming shellfish and seaweed in our coastal waters is a regenerative solution that creates jobs and a much needed economic alternative.


Marion Lear Swaybill & Noah Kaufmann

Noah Kaufmann, digital editor of Food and Wine, hosts a conversation with Marion Lear Swaybil, author of Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw.

In Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw, Marion Lear Swaybill presents a wide-ranging visual exploration of this iconic shellfish, including stunning portraits of more than fifty oyster varietals, the latest photographs from some of the country’s most renowned and beautiful oyster farms, and notable illustrations of oysters in the arts and culture, all alongside a lively and informative text. For centuries, oysters have had the power to sustain and delight, inspiring writers and artists, lowly cooks and four-star chefs, laborers and gourmands, and everyone in between. A feast for the eyes and the palate oysters also are rich in history and lore. 

Floating Oyster Bar Tests Owners’ Mettle

Via The Wall Street Journal, written by Sophia Hollander:

Brothers behind Grand Banks navigate the perils of running a restaurant docked in Hudson River Park.
Tides riled the opening week of Grand Banks, an oyster bar docked in Hudson River Park. As the current ripped at the moorings three summers ago, the owners remembered flinging themselves on the ropes to stabilize the historic boat.
And then a customer called out. “I’ve been waiting an hour for my table,” she said. “What’s going on?”
It was an early lesson in running a New York City restaurant for the two brothers, Alexander and Miles Pincus, behind Grand Banks. But it was far from the only learning curve.
In addition to hosting a restaurant, the boat operates as a nonprofit, also run by the Pincus brothers, dedicated to maritime education and restoring historic vessels. It is all crammed into a 142-foot schooner built more than 70 years ago that degrades daily, requiring about $200,000 of annual maintenance, according to the brothers.
“Most people don’t have the problem that their restaurant changes height,” said Alexander Pincus, 40 years old. “We have to do all the boat stuff right so it has no interference with any of the other things that need to go right.”
Some customers still ask if they can stop the boat from bobbing in the water “like we’re at Disney World,” said his brother Miles, 37. “It’s not a ride, it’s an experience.”
This summer, the brothers got another reminder of the perils of operating a floating restaurant when plans to open a second boat in Brooklyn Bridge Park fell through.
“We spent months renovating a beautiful historic ship, designing and building a restaurant on board, creating a new menu, hiring and training staff,” Alexander said. The park has been supportive of their work, he said, but the marina has yet to be completed.
Brooklyn Bridge Park and One15 Brooklyn Marina, the company contracted to manage and build the dock, declined to comment.
The brothers grew up in New Orleans, where their father ran a hotel and oyster bar. They started sailing as children, and Miles refurbished and sold boats as a teenager.
After they moved to New York, Alexander read about the area’s oyster history. He was captivated by the oyster barges, like floating saloons, around lower Manhattan, giving it the name Oyster Row.
“I got fixated on this idea,” he said. “How beautiful it was and how wild it was and how everybody ate on boats.”
As they began to search for a site, Hudson River Park told the brothers there wasn’t space for an oyster barge, but there was an open berth for a historic ship. They went out and got one.
“They were fast,” said Madelyn Wils, president and chief executive of Hudson River Park.
The boat, the Sherman Zwicker, was built in Nova Scotia in 1942 to fish in the waters known as the Grand Banks. For decades it had been run and maintained by volunteers.
“We realized that our volunteer crew had an average age of about 70, and the vessel was not getting any younger,” said Bob Ryan, executive director of Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. “This couldn’t go on forever.”
Mr. Ryan’s group donated the boat to the nonprofit created by the Pincus brothers, called the Maritime Foundation, which hosts educational lectures and tours. In the small hold, they stage exhibitions featuring maritime history. Since the boat is an extension of the park in season, the public can sit in the restaurant without ordering anything.
This year, they expanded their partnership with the Billion Oyster Project, which is seeking to repopulate New York’s waterways. Grand Banks donates used oyster shells to the organization—which cleans the shells and uses them to grow a new generation of bivalves—and hosts an oyster-monitoring station off the side of the ship.
Kerry Heffernan, a former Eleven Madison Park chef who has also done work with the Environmental Defense Fund, said he was attracted to work on the 70-seat boat-restaurant because of his interest in sustainable seafood. At Grand Banks he took striped bass off the menu and pays fishermen more for less popular breeds like porgy and bluefish.
“Thankfully our guests come aboard, and they’re very willing to listen to what we have to say and what we want to demonstrate,” Mr. Heffernan said. “They’re the choir.”
Having that kind of platform was enticing enough to overcome the constraints of preparing food on a boat.
All the cooking is electric, since open flames are prohibited. The brothers rebuilt all the tables after discovering that water condensation on the oyster trays caused them to slide right off.
With their partner Adrien Gallo, the brothers learned to calculate every power use down to a single charging cellphone. Their first year, when someone turned on an unauthorized fan during a hot summer night, the power went out.
That fall, the heaters couldn’t operate the same time as the fryer. When they ran low on simple syrup one Saturday and an employee tried to make more, the extra burner blew the circuits.
“We quickly realized how important it is for everyone to holistically understand how the systems work,” Miles said. If not, he added, “everything melts down.”

How a Billion Oysters Are Set to Change New York’s Harbor


Via The New York Observer, written by Yissca Schiff :

New Yorkers eat up to half a million oysters in local restaurants every week. However, what most people probably don’t know is that after they’ve shucked and guzzled, those empty oyster shells go on to help the city.
Not only did oysters used to be the native keystone species of New York Harbor, but they also act as water filterers, provide habitat for other marine species and attenuate wave energy. Enter the Billion Oyster Project (BOP), the ever-expanding operation that is spearheading the race to reinstate oysters and reefs to the city’s harbor.
Formally established in 2014, BOP is a non-profit ecosystem restoration and education project that endeavors to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor by 2030. By securing would-be discarded oyster shells from top regional restaurants, curing and preparing them for reuse to grow new oysters—up to 20 per saved shell—to build habitat, the aim is to improve the quality of both the Harbor and the city.
“Billion Oyster Project aims to restore a sustainable oyster population and reignite a passion and appreciation for the Harbor by engaging New Yorkers directly in the work of restoring one billion oysters,” BOP director Pete Manilowski, Director of BOP, told the Observer.
To date, the Billion Oyster Project has reclaimed and recycled 250,350 pounds of shell, and restored an astounding 17,000,000 oysters. Oysters are ecosystem engineers, helping to clean up the quality of the water—one adult oyster filters 40-50 gallons of water a day. In other words, if you put a billion of them on the bottom of the Harbor, that’s a heck of a lot of water cleanup. According to Samuel Janis, the BOP School Programs Manager, the state of the Harbor, the city’s main natural resource, is currently “much better than it has been probably in the last 150 years.”
Harbor and marine life have suffered disproportionately over the last century, degraded by pollution. However, since the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1971 prohibited the dumping of raw sewage and refuse into the Harbor there has been an emergence of large-scale restoration. BOP is determined to return the Harbor to the most productive waterbody in the North Atlantic and reclaim its title as the oyster capital of the world. Teaming up with organizations from all over the city over the past couple of years, the project has become a yardstick for the state and condition of New York Harbor.
“Oysters provide a concrete example of where New York has been, where it is now, and what we can do to get our ecosystem back,” said Elisa Caref of the River Project, which has been working for 30 years to expand awareness and conservation of the Hudson River Estuary and New York Harbor, and is also one of BOP’s many partners.
Over 50 of the city’s restaurants are now involved in the Shell Collection Program, donating their oyster shells each week for reuse. The OysterHood, another partner of BOP, organizes oyster-related social dining events for the oyster aficionados and “adventurous foodies of New York,” raising a greater awareness of food sources. “[We’re] building stronger connections between consumers, the habitats that support our food production and the producers themselves,” Kevin Joseph, CEO and co-founder of OysterHood, told the Observer.
“People realize that not only can they have fun and eat fancy food,” Manilowski said. “But they can also help restore the environment while they are doing it.”
Referred to as a “lighthouse project,” BOP has captured the imagination of a wide variety of people from all over New York. Something, says entrepreneur and marketer for the OysterHood Rudi Ehrlich, “that the rest of the country should be looking to.”
The project’s roots rest with the New York Harbor School, a public, maritime Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school on Governors Island. Surrounded by water that’s utilized as its “living classroom,” its students are “the primary workers and planners” said Susannah Black, Communications Coordinator for the New York Harbor Foundation. They perform an active role in BOP—their six CTE programs, which include aquaculture and ocean engineering and robotics, conveniently represent the six fields necessary for large-scale oyster restoration.
Cris Pupello, 17, is approaching his senior year at NYHS and recognizes the significance of the opportunity. “We built these oyster restoration cages with our own hands. We all help each other out to achieve one goal, it all fits together”, he said.
“[They] have a tight grasp on this complex information and the work they are doing,” Manilowski said. “At BOP, there’s a commitment to involving young people in every aspect of the work.”
Now working with 54 different schools the city, BOP is capturing the excitement of students and teachers alike. 320 middle schoolers on June 10 gathered for the annual Symposium, a 50% increase from last year, all presenting their oyster restoration research, and sharing their excitement for the project. Intrinsic to the Billion Oyster Project’s mission of restoration is the ethos of stewardship and the passing on of that care and responsibility for the local environment.
The seasonal floating bar Grand Banks, which serves up oysters aboard an historic wooden schooner, is one of the many restaurants partnering with BOP.
“We want to be able to eat the fish that swim beneath our boat and to once again pluck oysters out of the Hudson and eat them on the spot,” Alexander Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Grand Banks told the Observer. BOP’s work and intention marks a watershed in the history of the city’s environmental efforts, galvanizing students, scientists and foodies alike for a common cause. “Restoring the oyster life, and in turn the overall health, of New York Harbor, benefits everyone in New York,” Pincus said.
Last week, BOP announced they are kicking off a new Community Reefs program, with several new reef sites around the city already getting underway this summer, to join the pilot reef off Governors Island. This intiative will not only accelerate the process of restoring one billion oysters to New York Harbor, but it will also enable more of the public to be involved. The aim is to bring people down to the shoreline and get them involved in the hands-on work of restoration and reef monitoring.
For Black, the future of BOP is in education. “If all we did was restore the oysters, got them all back into the harbor, but without building a culture of stewardship and without building the skills of maritime life and marine science understandings in the next generation of New Yorkers, that wouldn’t be a success,” she said. “So it’s really building the next generation that we’re interested in, as much as building the reefs.”

The Floating Oyster Bar Where Chanel Iman, Taylor Schilling, and Aziz Ansari Toast the Summer

Via Vogue:

Grand Banks, set in the 1942-built wooden schooner Sherman Zwicker, spends the warmer months docked at Manhattan’s Pier 25—perhaps the city’s breeziest spot for sustainably harvested oysters and ruby-red Muri-Gries rosé from the north of Italy. Luminaries like Chanel Iman, Marisa Tomei, Taylor Schilling, Erin Heatherton, and Aziz Ansari—as well as the Wall Streeters and Condé Nast editors who populate nearby office towers—climb aboard for chef Kerry Heffernan’s lobster rolls and fried Montauk blowfish tails, a tribute to the boat’s past as a fishing vessel that prowled up and down the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Lauren Schell’s nautical cocktails, like the Campari-spiked Italian Ambassador to Mars, give this stretch of the Hudson River an air of the Mediterranean as the sun sets over the Garden State.

Chef De Cuisine

Join Our Crew!

Grand Banks, the award-winning oyster bar aboard a historic 142-foot sailboat docked in Tribeca, is seeking a Chef de Cuisine. Candidates must be enthusiastic and experienced with an innate ability to manifest excellence in hospitality. We employ a crew that maintains a fine-dining level of service, a professional appearance, and a positive attitude in a fast-paced energetic atmosphere. We have a deep commitment to sustainably harvested seafood, the preservation of historic vessels, and the maritime community. Candidates for all positions should have appreciation for these values while demonstrating an authentic sense of hospitality.


Job Summary

The Chef De Cuisine is charged with the daily operational success of the kitchen. The person in this position develops systems for the production of menu items while leading a well organized team. They will consult closely with Executive Chef and Sous Chef to plan menus, create new items, and make seasonal changes based on product availability. Specific responsibilities include the planning and pricing of dishes, cost analysis, overseeing labor and inventory management.

  • Must have experience in menu development and execution
  • Kitchen management and organizational experience is mandatory
  • Fine dining experience is mandatory
  • Must have experience in managing financial systems
  • Superb communication skills are required
  • Must demonstrate a strong sense pride, leadership and collaboration
  • Must be able to remain composed under stress within a high-volume environment
  • Positive attitude, integrity and confidence are required
  • Full time availability is mandatory
  • Fluency in Spanish a plus
  • Must have sea legs
  • Certifications Required
  • DOH Safe Food Handler
  • FDNY Fire Guard
  • Food Allergy Training Course
  • Training / Skills / Knowledge Required
  • Management Practices
  • HR Practices
  • All BOH Positions
  • Purchasing / Receiving
  • Basic Safety - BOH
  • Grand Banks Practices
  • DOH Guidelines
  • Compensation
  • Competitive Salary
  • Application



If you are interested in joining us for a season of fun in the sun (on a boat), please visit our APPLICATION PAGE by clicking the button below. Do not call, email, or send resumes.



Grand Banks is an equal opportunity employer committed to hiring a diverse workforce at all levels of the business thereby creating a culture that allows us to better serve our customers, our employees and our communities. We value and encourage the contributions of our employees and strive to create an environment where everyone can reach their full potential and drive outstanding results.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or any other basis protected by local, state, or federal law. This policy applies with regard to all aspects of one's employment, including hiring, transfer, promotion, compensation, eligibility for benefits, and termination.

Julie Qiu


Julie Qiu, acclaimed oyster expert and connoisseur, will lead a discussion and free tasting of a variety of oyster species. Sponsored by the Maritime Foundation, and entitled Oyster Explorers, this journey is intended to bridge the knowledge gap between consumer and industry professionals. Julie is an internationally-recognized oyster expert and founder of In A Half Shell, based in New York City. Her passion for oyster appreciation and sustainable seafood has inspired her to create unique tasting and educational experiences such as the New York Oyster Crawl, Oyster Omakase Pop Up Tasting Club, and co-author products such as the New York Oyster Map, and 33 Oysters on the Half Shell Tasting Notebook. In A Half Shell has been recognized as one of Fathom Away’s “Top 24 Travel Blogs of 2015,” and SAVEUR’s “Sites We Love.”

Have You Discovered the Best Oyster Bars in New York City?

Via The New York Observer, written by Zachary Weiss:

In the last few moments of summer, reap the seasons rewards by enjoying the best foods on offer. While most consider raw oysters to be a tried and true aphrodisiac, I prefer to think of them more as a summer snack staple. Thus, rather than spending your last summer Friday packing into the Jitney with the masses, belly up to one of these awesome oyster bars. 
1. Grand Banks The “next big thing” in experiential New York bars, Grand Banks, takes guests aboard a schooner docked in Tribeca. Pay a visit to this hotspot before it becomes more sardine-packed than The High Line.
2. Grand Central Oyster Bar Brooklyn It may not be located inside the actual midtown transport hub, but Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Park Slope locale makes for an even better oyster-filled happy hour devoid of commuter (and tourist) traffic. 
3. The Bar Room The Bar Room, tucked uptown on 60th St between Park and Lexington, serves up quality cocktails and $2 every day from 4-6 PM. The earlier you arrive, the more likely you are the actually score some before they sell out.  
4. The Mermaid Inn The Mermaid Inn’s three locations in the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, and The East Village are the brain child of restauranteur Danny Abrams, and have been known to pack to the gills on a summer Friday. The small spot also offers $1 oysters every Monday starting at 5 PM through the evening. 
5. Lure Fish Bar The subterranean Soho boîte, where Mets pitcher Matt Harvey once crafted a sushi roll for me, is a mecca for all things seafood-not just oysters! 
6. Blue Water Grill  This mainstay located on Union Square first opened in 1996, and formerly operated as the Metropolitan Bank, which is still visible in the eatery’s soaring ceilings and power lunches.
7. Hudson Malone Hudson Malone proprietor Doug Quinn is the master cocktail maker, formerly of PJ Clarke’s, who recently opened this new eatery with the eye for a no-frills dining experience.The bi-level space is slightly hidden on 53rd St, thanks to a sign that simply reads “Eva Dress Shop,” but keep an eye out for dim gas lanterns outside. He refers to it as “a real New York joint.” Mr. Malone also has a knack for remembering all of his customers. 
8. Maison Premiere This Williamsburg cocktail den and oyster bar offers an oyster happy Monday-Friday from 4-7pm, as well as on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-1pm. Maison Premiere’s selection of oysters changes daily, and a select 15 varieties are available for $1-$1.25.

Murray Fisher


Murray Fisher will speak about the Billion Oyster Project, an ecosystem restoration and education project aimed at restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor and engaging hundreds of thousands of school children through restoration based STEM education programs. Murray has been President of New York Harbor Foundation since he created the organization in 2010. He founded Urban Assembly New York Harbor School in 2003 and served as its Program Director until 2010. Murray led the school’s move from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to a newly renovated building on Governors Island and led a successful capital campaign for the school’s new waterfront Marine Affairs, Science and Technology (MAST) Center. Murray is the co-founder of the Billion Oyster Project. Prior to founding Harbor School, he worked as a Field Coordinator at Waterkeeper Alliance and an Educator at Hudson Riverkeeper. Murray holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.