Oyster Club is a casual fine dining restaurant and raw bar specializing in the richness of the New England coast and countryside. The menu, which is written daily, showcases food that travels the shortest distance from ‘farm & sea to table,’ with seasonality and location determining the day’s delicacies. Benefiting from the region’s many local farmers and fisherman, Oyster Club features bounty from the sea, pasture raised beef, local produce and artisanal cheeses. Welcome to our table.
Dan Meiser Owner
A native of Manchester, CT, Dan Meiser began his restaurant career working for well-known local chef, Chris Torla, of Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford, CT. Recognizing his passion for cooking, food, and restaurants, Dan enrolled at the esteemed French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, graduating first in his class. Dan then went on to work in the kitchens of world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel, and then Café Boulud.
Several years later, Dan returned to Connecticut to work for restauranteur Rich Rosenthal of the Max Restaurant Group, learning the business as a young floor manager at several of the Max Restaurants. In the summer of 2006, Dan took the reins as General Manager of Trumbull Kitchen, the very restaurant he started in as a line cook just three years prior.
In 2007, Dan was approached by the Melville Charitable Trust, a non-profit organization, looking to establish a premier restaurant in the historically disenfranchised Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford as part of a neighborhood revitalization project. Accepting the charge, Dan opened up Firebox in June of 2007 to rave reviews. By 2008, Firebox was receiving national attention and in November, Dan received the coveted “30 Under 30” award given out by Restaurant & Hospitality Magazine to the top 30 restaurateurs in the United States under the age of 30.
In the spring of 2010, after nearly 3 ½ years at Firebox, Dan was recruited to help re-open the Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI, consulting with the food & beverage team for their first season. It was this project that brought Dan to the Stonington area and ultimately inspired him to set forth on one of his proudest accomplishments.
After more than a year transforming what was originally a small carriage house in historic downtown Mystic into what is now a cozy New England classic, Oyster Club finally opened its iconic orange doors on September 28, 2011. A daily changing menu, sourcing almost exclusively from local farmers, fisherman and artisans, Oyster Club believes that “our food has a story.” With the help of the incredible and talented restaurant team, Oyster Club has been telling that story for 5 years now. Oyster Club has earned regional and national attention, having been named the “Best Upscale Restaurant in CT” by the Connecticut Restaurant Association, one of the “Best Oyster Bars in America” by Travel & Leisure Magazine, and the #76 restaurant in America by the Daily Meal, on their annual “101 Best Restaurants in America” list.
In 2013, building on the success of Oyster Club, Dan and executive chef James Wayman partnered to open Engine Room in a restored marine engine factory on the banks of the Mystic river. Almost 3 years later, it joins its sister restaurant as one of the great bar & food scenes in Connecticut. With a constantly evolving beer & cocktail program, coupled with American comfort food prepared using ingredients from the same farmers, fisherman and artisans as Oyster Club, Engine Room is the perfect place to gather with friends and family.
Dan and his wife Jane now live in Stonington on a 250-year-old historic farm property. Stone Acres Farm, a 63-acre former dairy and provision farm, dates back to 1765 and is one of the most iconic farm properties remaining in CT. With it’s grand main house, stone walls, pastures, orchards, woodlands and wetlands, the property is as diverse and interesting as the plans for it. With a proposal to bring back full farming activities, coupled with artisan food production, an on-site market, farm dinners and a restaurant, Stone Acres Farm will become a “must see” for regional food tourists, and a daily staple for the local community.
Dan serves as the Vice Chair of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, as well as on the Advisory Council of New England Science and Sailing (NESS). NESS is a non-profit based in Stonington that empowers local youth through education and experiences on the water. In 2016, Dan was named “Restaurateur of the Year” by the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
James Wayman Executive Chef
Born and raised on a farm just outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, Executive Chef James Wayman has spent a lifetime of sourcing and eating with the seasons. From an early age, James spent afternoons cooking with his grandmother and exploring the woods of rural North Carolina in search of berries, wild mushrooms, and native trout. This philosophy of eating and sourcing with the seasons was not a trend, it was a way of life in the Wayman home.
Realizing his desire to continue to explore the wonders of food and place, James graduated from Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, where he first got a taste of New England coastal cuisine. He then went on to help open and cook at Water Street Café in the Connecticut fishing village of Stonington Borough. At Water Street, James cooked a menu that changed daily, focusing on the clean, simple flavors of coastal cuisine. After leaving Water Street, James took the Executive Chef position at The River Tavern in Chester, CT, working with chef-owner Jonathan Rapp. The River Tavern is a regionally recognized restaurant, with firm adherence to sourcing and cooking seasonally and locally. James remained the Executive Chef at The River Tavern for 7 years, and brings that experience to Oyster Club.
James’s cooking is anchored in farm inspired coastal food, but is influenced heavily by his passion for different cultures, particularly the “comfort food” of these regions. James has eaten his way through Europe, but is most impressed and impacted by his time in Thailand and Oaxaca, Mexico. James also has a gift and love for charcuterie, the art of preserving meats through curing, smoking, drying and sausage making. James believes in a philosophy of “tail to snout” cooking, which requires a deep knowledge of animal butchering and being able to utilize the entire animal. Charcuterie plays a crucial role in the successful use of whole animals.
James recently won "Chef of the Year 2016" by the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and in November 2016, had the great honor of cooking a dinner at the esteemed James Beard House. Oyster Club is proud to have James Wayman as our culinary guide on this journey.
Mark Signor General Manager
Erica Sigersmith Front of House Manager
Dave Vacca Sous Chef
Dave grew up between Mystic and Stonington, spending summers on his aunt's sailboat, and winters with her or his grandmother in the kitchen. His earliest memories of cooking were standing on his grandmother's kitchen chair stirring sauces, the smell of simmering tomatoes transports him back there every time. Through high school Dave cooked at Noah's Restaurant in Stonington, learning the importance of fresh, local ingredients. Now as the sous chef of the Oyster Club, he hopes to continue learning about and working with the incomparable bounty that the New England coast has to offer.