A New Orleans vacation was the inspiration for Juicy Oistre.

Douglas Botsford and Sean Morin have worked their way around Ann Arbor’s restaurant kitchens. They met as cooks at the Gandy Dancer in 2009, and have individually spent time at the Barton Hills Country Club, Argiero’s, Conor O’Neill’s, Blue Tractor, and Knight’s Downtown.

After Botsford left town to manage a restaurant in Denver, the pair met up in 2018 for a New Orleans vacation. After a night out, they wound up as the first customers at Felix’s Oyster Bar, a famous French Quarter haunt.

Watching the counter man open their bivalves, the pair were inspired to open an oyster place of their own in Ann Arbor, where both have roots. Morin went to Community High and EMU, while Botsford went to Huron and attended WCC. Botsford’s grandfather, Don, founded Ann Arbor Gymkhana, the area’s first private fitness center.

“I felt like this was something people in the area were missing out on,” Douglas Botsford says.

They spent two years writing a business plan, passing it back and forth via text and email. Then, last year, they spent $18,000 to buy and outfit a used ice cream truck, and Juicy Oistre was born.

Their first event was in Morin’s driveway in Ypsilanti, but the truck now has a regular monthly spot at York on Packard Rd., selling as many as 1,000 oysters during a three-hour time slot.

Generally, the menu features raw and grilled oysters and other dishes pegged to availability and weather conditions. In January, that included oyster pate and oyster soup. Future offerings may include a crawfish boil, clam bake, and lobster dishes. Check the Events tab on York’s website for details.

The oysters come from growers on the west coast. Although Pacific oysters tend to be smaller than east-coast varieties, the men feel that the flavor is sweeter and more complex, and the oysters have a deeper shell to hold ingredients.

Neither have quit their day jobs yet, but both are excited that their truck is rolling. “In a restaurant, you have your task, you have your thing,” says Botsford. “When it comes to a food truck, you’re the restaurant.”

Adds Morin, “My energy gets more excited because I’m not feeding someone else’s idea book. I was doing this for somebody else. Now I get to do it for myself.”

This article has been edited since it was published in the February 2021 Ann Arbor Observer. Don Botsford’s job in Denver has been corrected, and a canceled event has been removed.