The Real Mother Shuckers is a Black-owned restaurant located in Brooklyn owned by Ben Harney, better known as “Moody,” who has for the past years offered his knowledge and expertise in producing healthy and delicious oysters. His experience within the food industry has allowed him to explore his passion and grow appreciation for the work he continues to do today. The Real Mother Shuckers has received support from the program Together We Thrive which has been very beneficial to the business. Together We Thrive is a Black Business network that is targeted to support Black-owned businesses’ long-term success by providing technical assistance tailored to the needs of Black business owners and would-be entrepreneurs.
Harney is a third generation New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn; he explained that his time growing up was heavily surrounded by theater and performance, as he had a family full of musicians. The experiences that he had growing up exposed him to many opportunities that would ultimately lead him to being a skilled entrepreneur. “I’ve always had a wealth of experiences that different people never really got a chance to, so that’s the reason why something like what I’m doing today is approachable to me,” said Harney.
Harney explained how his prior experience with nonprofit sector work was what led him to be introduced to the word of oysters. As he continued to embark on this work, he moved to Louisiana to do work with sustainable living. The time spent in Louisiana is where he began to see firsthand what work was like within the food industry specifically. “My time spent in the food industry allowed me to understand that there wasn’t necessarily the type of positive environment that was for me, their integrity didn’t necessarily meet mine,” he explained.
For Harney, jumpstarting his small business began with ensuring connections with partnerships and programs. He explained how starting a small business is exactly like real estate. “For me, being able to partner with other businesses is the key to getting involved with entrepreneurship.” Together We Thrive has had great impact on The Real Mother Shuckers as Harney further expressed, “They’ve been very helpful and I’m grateful for that, they’ve been allies and worked with me to help me get the attention my business needed.”
Spreading the awareness and knowledge of oysters is something that Harney continues to prioritize and take pride in within his work. “It feels good to be able to expand people’s horizons in different ways,” said Harney. There is much depth to the importance of producing oysters, for it can benefit one’s health as well as the health of the planet. Harney’s initiative is both personal and global. He hopes to extend this business to Black audiences specifically, explaining, “The initiative is to get my people comfortable with a food that is healthy and delicious, and to revise that perspective on it being something that is not a part of their culture or cuisine.”
He concluded by expressing how he hopes his small business will grow as he continues providing opportunities to his community. “It gives urban kids a job, it gives our environment sustainable food, and it gives our people an individual sustainable, healthy food choice.”