By Michelle Love 

Photos by Keith McCoy

The Pelham location of the Half Shell Oyster House restaurant has officially opened its doors to the public.

After two successful soft openings on Monday, June 6 and Tuesday, June 7, the seafood restaurant, which will be located in the Campus 124 property, held its grand opening Wednesday afternoon, June 8.

The popular restaurant chain has several locations throughout the south, but this marks the first location for Shelby County. It joins the Campus 124 entertainment area on Pelham Parkway, home to the popular Beer Hog, which serves several local beers and bar food. The location was designed to bring new life to the Pelham area, providing a multitude of dining options to what was formerly a lull on the highway. Though Half Shell is a corporate chain, the store runners wanted to create a space that was unique for Pelham residents.

The restaurant’s open feel allows guests to enjoy their meal without being smothered by the party next to them. It’s decor rings of a New Orleans French Quarter aesthetic, and the open bar area allows guests to enjoy a variety of different cocktails without feeling too crowded. The chandeliers that hang from the ceiling were specifically chosen to give patrons the perfect amount of lighting and to also emulate that “dining in the Quarter” feel.

The menu offers a diverse array of appetizers ranging from fried green tomatoes to crab cakes. Their oyster sampler offers four different varieties of oysters on the half shell: Raw, Rockefeller, garlic herb and shrimp with parmesan. Main entrees reflect that same bayou restaurant feel with dishes such as fried oyster po’ boys and grilled red fish with red beans and rice. If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the cinnamon roll bread pudding.

The cocktail list is just as extensive as the food menu. Classic cocktails such as a Manhattan and a French 75 hold their own against more creative libations, like a blackberry margarita or a mango martini. Wine lovers will be impressed with their long list of classic wines, and any bourbon lover will love the wide variety of bourbons available.

General Manager Will Middleton said the restaurant’s staff was more than excited to open to the public and the opening has been a long time coming.

“Our training staff and new hires worked really hard, and it makes me happy to hear the praises they received during the soft opening,” he says.

Since they opened, Will says they’ve had an almost overwhelming positive response from the community. He explains that with the growth of the city progressing at such a fast rate, the citizens of Pelham were ready for a seafood restaurant.

“We have been rocking and rolling every night,” Will says. “The community of Pelham is eager to have somewhere new to dine, and we are happy to be that. We aim to deliver delicious seafood with a New Orleans flair, top notch service with a fun and relaxing atmosphere.”

Pelham’s City Council President Maurice Mercer says the restaurant was exactly what the community needed, and he himself is a huge fan of the diverse menu.

“Half Shell is everything I have heard residents say they want in Pelham, in terms of an upscale seafood restaurant,” Maurice says. “I’m ecstatic to see them grow in Pelham and come into the entertainment district at Campus 124. As a self-proclaimed gumbo connoisseur, I personally look forward to my next bowl of Half Shell’s gumbo.”

Back in April, Half Shell hosted a job fair for front and back-of-the-house positions, and the restaurant’s communications manager Kelsey Griffin said they are still accepting applications.

“We are mainly setting our focus on hiring right now,” she says. “We are eager to open for lunch, but we need more staff before we can do that. We encourage anyone who enjoys a fast-paced and fun environment to apply. We provide paid training for all positions, referral bonuses, competitive pay and Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance.

Half Shell Oyster House of Pelham is located at 2408 Pelham Parkway. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday.