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Joe Island Clams owner Kyle Brinkley, with machine used to sort and bag his Tampa Bay clams / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER
It's dim and quiet inside The Clam House, dim because all the lights except for the tubed Christmas lights have been shut off, quiet because the Palmetto restaurant doesn't open till dinnertime, and it's only now noon. Owner Kyle Brinkley calls the eatery, which mixes traditional sushi with old-school Florida dishes, a "bucket list" venture, just something he and his wife, Deanna, have always wanted to do.
Brinkley's main business, his bread and butter, lies to the north, in Tampa Bay, specifically on and around Joe Island, a small curved island just north of the spot where the Sunshine Skyway first stretches away from the mainland. It's there where Brinkley raises and harvests millions of clams each year.
Brinkley got into clam farming after years in as a commercial fisherman and stints in the clamming business up and down the east coast and the gulf. But when new regulations began limiting catch sizes and shrinking the zones in which he could fish, he decided to give aquaculture farming a try, and, just over a decade ago, invested $275,000 in getting the Joe Island operation up and running. It took him four years to turn a profit, but the venture has grown and grown. Nowadays, he purchases and plants 7 million juvenile clams a year in 14 acres of estuarine water.
Joe Island clams in a fettuccine dish created by Marcella Hazan / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER
So how do they taste?
The Clam House is located at 304 7th St. W., Palmetto.
For more information, call 721-8774 or visit theclamhouse.com.
For more information about Joe Island Clams, call 448-9618
or visit joeislandclams.com.
Eat Near: How Joe Island Clams
raises millions of bivalves right in Tampa Bay By Cooper Levey-Baker , Herald-Tribune Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Joe Island Clams