From the Sea

By Griffin Nelson
Photography by Jane Kortright

Park Avenue Oyster Bar & Grill in Aiken has set itself apart as the premiere venue for date nights, a fresh bite, rehearsal dinners and more. The experienced background of the owners and staff and the freshness of the food hold a promising future.

Principle owner Richard Stoney and his wife Lynn Krnacik have created a casual fine dining space with cozy booths, high ceilings, chandeliers, local art, classically Southern blue and white striped napkins and an extensive wine list. 

Stoney opened his first restaurant in college and has developed that experience over decades at places like The Boathouse at Breach Inlet in Charleston. Despite plans to retire, he saw the wonderful space that was formerly Betsy’s Around the Corner and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give back to his community with a quality oyster bar and seafood restaurant. 

In need of a reliable team, he offered every staff member from Betsy’s the opportunity to stay on. The shift in restaurant style deterred few, so the oyster bar was able to employ a group that had already established trust and communication. 

Photo by Jane Kortright.

As manager, Amos Harper speaks for the team, “That’s why I do this — the satisfaction of the food or wine and seeing people experience it. It’s not about meeting expectations, it’s about substantially exceeding expectations.” With 35 years of restaurant experience and a sommelier certification, his passion for people and a great meal is evident. 

Executive Chef Paige Harden is also a holdover from Betsy’s. She has a degree from Johnson & Wales University in North Carolina and sets a high bar for every menu item, special and dessert. Harden has developed a well-rounded menu but admits the Mahi-mahi is her personal favorite — though even the non-seafood dishes like the chicken with apple barbecue sauce are a must-try. The Tuna Tartare is a wonderfully fresh place to start and desserts from the award-winning chef are not to be missed.

Of course, oysters are always on the menu. “I’ve been an oyster nut since I was real little,” admits Stoney, who’s been known to eat two bushels of roasted oysters on his own. Many of the options rotate for interest and seasonal freshness and can be ordered raw or cooked in a variety of ways depending on preference. 

As seen in the August/September 2023 issue of Augusta magazine.

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