Sammie's Bar and Grill customer finds 21 pearls in fried oyster at Tallmadge restaurant

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- If 21 isn't his lucky number, maybe it should be.

A man who was eating fried oysters at Sammie's Bar & Grill on South Avenue May 18 found 21 small pearls in one of the oysters, according to restaurant owner David DeLapa.

"He bit into a fried oyster and pulled out a pearl, and when I was walking over to his table [to make sure his food was satisfactory], he was just pulling all these pearls out," DeLapa said. "It was just amazing, so I said, 'Why don't you let me go and rinse those off and let's see what we have here?'"

It's unclear how common it is to find natural pearls in oysters and whether the irregularly shaped pearls of various shades of white, the largest of which DeLapa estimated to be the size of a pencil eraser, are worth much money. Conversations on online message boards and websites indicate they're more of a keepsake than anything, as pearls found in jewelry typically are cultivated.

Although DeLapa knows the older gentleman is from Tallmadge, he didn't catch his name.

"I didn't get that far in the conversation with him because I was so intrigued with the pearls," he said.

DeLapa noted the man wasn't injured because as soon as he bit into the oyster and found one pearl, he dug the rest out.

"That's a once-in-a-lifetime event ... I would say the odds of that happening in someone's lifetime is probably zero," DeLapa said about the discovery of 21 pearls.

He said restaurant workers don't see pearls in oysters while preparing them for customers because they're hidden in the meat, or belly, of the mollusks.

The man told DeLapa he intended to keep the mementos.

DeLapa said this is the first time a customer at his restaurant discovered pearls while eating oysters, which are the main ingredient in a few of the restaurant's best-selling dishes.

And until a couple of weeks before when DeLapa himself was eating an oyster on the half-shell after his shift and bit into something hard, which also turned out to be a small, white pearl similar to the ones his customer found, this was the first time he had heard of anyone finding pearls in oysters.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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