Woodhouse Fish Co. To Continue Shucking Oysters At Church & Market

Over the past couple of months, the intersection of Church and Market streets has seen a lot of change: Photoworks relocated, Rikkers Liquours closed and Apothecarium moved.

However, at the mighty confluence of Market, Church, 14th and Landers streets, Woodhouse Fish Co. will endure—at least for now.

A spokesperson from Veritas Investments, owner of 2073 Market St., had this to say about a forthcoming seismic retrofit of the building:

"We are working very hard to minimize the impact on our tenants through this mandatory soft story work ... We are not terminating the tenancy of Woodhouse and Ace Hardware.  The soft story work impacts their spaces very minimally, if at all, and we have already secured a renewal with Woodhouse."

That's good news for the three MacNiven brothers—Dylan, Rowan and Tyler—who collectively own Woodhouse. The brothers also own the Woodhouse Fish Co. on Fillmore Street and West of Pecos on Valencia Street.

From a young age, the brothers worked in their parents’ eatery down on the Peninsula: Silicon Valley’s very own Buck’s Restaurant.

“It’s one of those small town pancakes in the morning, hamburgers for lunch, and steak at night kind of American diners,” said Dylan. “When we all moved to San Francisco, I was the first to say, ‘Hey, maybe we can make use of our skills and open a restaurant.’”

In 2006, they launched Woodhouse in San Francisco.

The restaurant has a nautical theme.

The brothers landed on a simple neighborhood concept with a New England nautical vibe (and yes, their parents occasionally trek to the city to dine at their sons' restaurants).

“We didn’t want anything too trendy,” Dylan said. “We just wanted to serve good fish in a very simple, comfortable environment.”

“Seafood is a really expensive product, but we wanted to try and find a middle ground where we could get high-quality seafood without having to have customers pay as much as they would at a more upscale restaurant,” said Dylan. “I think we’ve managed to do that.”

The restaurant fills every inch of its 700 square feet.

In the past 10 years, the brothers have served a lot of seafood and have seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood.

“Home used to be this thriving restaurant just kitty-corner to us, Whole Foods came in and opened up a few years ago, and a bunch of apartments are now everywhere,” said Rowan.

But their clientele hasn’t changed much, Rowan noted. “A lot of our original Woodhouse customers are still coming in 10 years later.”

Woodhouse Fish Co. sits at the juncture of numerous Muni bus lines and Church Street Station, and straddles a few neighborhood boundaries. “This has always been a really colorful place to be at,” Dylan said.

While he considers their location Duboce Triangle, Rowan says the restaurant is technically more in the Mission.

However, the brothers explained that the Castro CBD stops sweeping the street at the restaurant’s front door, thus cleaning only half of its sidewalk space. “I guess we’re really right at the nexus of a bunch of neighborhoods,” Dylan concluded.

Woodhouse is located on one of Upper Market's busiest intersections

Regardless of shifting lines on a map, Woodhouse is firmly anchored to its concept. And although its lobster roll is arguably one of its most popular menu items, the restaurant is perhaps more well known for its dollar oyster Tuesdays.

“We’re getting to the point where oysters are about twice as expensive as when we first started,” said Dylan, “but for the past eight years, our day-long dollar oysters on Tuesdays has really resonated with people.”

Sometimes, patrons find pearls in their oysters.

Woodhouse gets many of its oysters from a boutique farmer from Tomales Bay.

“It’s what we’re known for, so we hope dollar oyster Tuesdays will be around for awhile,” said Dylan.

When dollar oyster Tuesdays first began, the staff would write on the kitchen wall how many oysters individual patrons consumed.

The brothers were impressed when someone ate more than two dozen oysters for the first time. Then someone ate 33 oysters in 2008. Later, someone ate 100.

“Our jaws dropped,” said Rowan.

Some people can eat a lot of oysters.

Come 2011, Tandra Froehlich sat down and ate 200 oysters in two hours. She then asked for the dessert menu and enjoyed an order of bread pudding.

A couple of years later, Steven Pratte ate 204 oysters over the course of four hours. Allegedly, Pratte did not save room for bread pudding.

“I offered it to him,” Rowan laughed. “But he wasn’t feeling too good.”

But you don’t have to eat hundreds of oysters to enjoy Woodhouse.

“If you’ve never tried an oyster and you’re new to the neighborhood, this is an excellent place to try one,” said Rowan.

“Yeah, we’re definitely not encouraging people to eat over 200 oysters,” added Dylan. “We’re just lucky to be in San Francisco where people love their seafood.”

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