During some rare down time in the office, with the Cotuit Bay waters rippling outside the windows, Gargiulo talks about his love of being close to the sea. Orange foul weather gear hangs neatly on racks. A couple of fishing rods are propped on the cooler. “In case I see any bonito and false albacore breaking, I want to be ready,” he says. Gargiulo’s family has been coming to the Cape for years. “My grandfather built houses here in the 1940s, in Popponesset,” says Gargiulo. His father, Richard, moved to the Cape permanently in the 1960s, and Chris has been coming here for all of his 40 years.
Gargiulo bought the business in 2004, but the Cotuit Oyster Company traces its roots to a pre-Civil War America, when the Cotuit shoreline was lined with working oyster shanties, fish processing sheds, and salt works. The company was founded in 1857 and began carrying the trademark “Cotuits R Superior” in 1932.
Today, the company headquarters are still in the same location, built to the specifications of the old oyster shack run by Ezra and Rosa Hobson (Chris still holds the shellfishing grant written in Ezra’s name from 1908). Inside, it’s modern, spartan, and clean, with little else besides a work desk, a walk-in cooler, and some stainless steel sorting tables. The sea lies outside the windows on three sides. It’s the focal point for oysters, and these are there in spades.