History of P&J Oyster Company
In 1876 John Popich founded our oyster company. Popich planted, cultivated, harvested and distributed his fresh oysters in the shell to restaurants and saloons in and around the greater New Orleans area for a number of years.
Around the turn of the century, Popich took on a new and younger partner, Joseph Jurisich. Jurisich's family was also in the oyster business owning an oyster saloon in the New Orleans French Quarter, but his parents died when he was a child, so he never had the opportunity to join his family's business. Jurisich was raised by his mother's family, the Federico's.
This partnership gave Popich the ability to concentrate on the oyster farming operation, while Jurisich focused on distributing the oysters to the local market. After a couple of years, the men decided it was time to expand their business and they established the largest oyster shucking operation in the southern United States, naming the company "Popich & Jurisich" or "P&J Oyster Company."
In 1921, the men believed that it was time to expand their operations. They purchased the present day oyster shucking house in the French Quarter on the corner of Toulouse Street and North Rampart Street in the French Quarter. They also took on a salesman, Alfred Sunseri. Alfred was married to Elvira Federico, Joe's first cousin.
Alfred continued working full-time for the United Fruit Company, (Chiquita Bananas) while working as P&J's part-time salesman and bookkeeper. Alfred developed and expanded P&J's shipping business through his shipping contacts he had with the United Fruit Company all over the U.S.
P&J used Railway Express as their major mode of interstate transportation. Railway Express picked up barrels of oysters in the shell, as well as shucked oysters, three times a day from the French Quarter facility and delivered fresh oysters to destinations in 48 states, Canada, and Mexico. With Alfred's customer contacts from the United Fruit Company, P&J became one of the biggest shippers of gulf oysters in the U.S.
In the early 1930's Alfred was offered a national management position at United Fruit Company if he would move to Baltimore, Maryland. He could not turn it down since this was the best financial choice for his young family. Popich and Jurisich wished him farewell and said that if he became homesick, he always had a position at P&J.
P&J had become overwhemling for the two men to handle by themselves. They lost some of their business because of the increased workload since Alfred's departure. After Alfred had been living in Baltimore for nearly six months or so, Jurisich contacted Alfred and offered him a one-third partnership in the business to return to P&J. Alfred did not hesitate to return his family to their beloved New Orleans.
In 1952, Alfred's only son, Sal began working at P&J as an accountant. After a few years the elder Popich and Jurisich decided to retire and relinquish their stock in the business to their children. Upon Alfred's death in 1961, Sal became the president and general manager of P&J Oyster Company.
Sal's young partners became disinterested in the oyster company and began selling their stock to Sal. By the late 1970's, Sal purchased the final shares of stock in the company and became the sole owner.
In 1980, Sal's son, Alfred Sunseri, came to work at P & J and is currently the general manager of the business. In 1984, Sal's second son, Sal Sunseri, Jr., began working full time for the company and is currently the sales manager. In 1991, Sal's youngest daughter, Merri Sunseri-Schneider, became P&J's office manager and bookkeeper.
Our family is committed to offering the finest, tastiest oysters in the world. Whether a tourist or a highly acclaimed chef, we know that the quality of our oysters is what keeps you coming back! All the Sunseri's thank you!
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