Travis and Ryan CroxtonFounders, Rappahannock Oyster Co.
Their business might have started with a Google search (“how to grow oysters”), but bivalves are in the blood of cousins Travis and Ryan Croxton: In 1899, their great-grandfather founded an oyster-harvesting business, Rappahannock River Oyster Co., on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. More than a century later, a time in which the area’s oyster population declined sharply, the Croxtons have resurrected the business. The new name is similar, but there’s a big difference: Their sustainable farming methods don’t involve dredging the bay’s floor, a process that upsets its delicate ecosystem.
The Croxtons’ greatest triumph is the oysters’ excellent quality. You can find them on many high-end menus in Washington, including Logan Circle’s Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, where chef/owner Jeff Black serves Old Black Salts—a variety he and the cousins created together—and at their Rappahannock Oyster Bar, one of the biggest draws to DC’s new Union Market.