Brothers Keep on Shucking, Open Restaurant

Customer interaction remains priority at Ruben and Ozzy's Oyster Bar & Grill



Chef and co-owner Ruben Lopez chats with customers at the bar of Ruben & Ozzy's Oyster Bar and Grill in Palm Springs.

Marissa Willman

Ruben and Ozzy Lopez first learned the restaurant ropes while working under their uncle at the Beach House in Rancho Mirage.

“I was really shy,” Ruben said, “but my uncle pushed me to start talking to customers and start shucking oysters.”

Twenty-five years later, the brothers continue to heed their uncle’s advice. Only the setting has changed.

The duo have opened Ruben & Ozzy’s Oyster Bar and Grill, 241 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs.

Over the years, Ruben said loyal customers who patronized their offerings at the Beach House and Shanghai Red’s in Palm Springs asked the pair when they would open their own restaurant.

Last fall, they finally did.

“Watching their talent, knowing how many years they have been doing this, it was all green lights to open their own restaurant,” said Ruben’s wife, Mara. “To see their life’s dream come together is very satisfying.

Ruben & Ozzy’s Oyster Bar and Grill serves internationally influenced seafood dishes. Menu items range from cioppino, Italian seafood stew with shellfish and marinara, to Mexican Poke, a Japanese-inspired appetizer of Ahi tuna, avocado, jalapenos and sweet and spicy sauce.

But what Ruben and Ozzy are best known for are their fish tacos, which Ozzy estimates they sell 200 to 300 each night. While the ingredients appear simple enough — beer-battered or grilled cod, cabbage, pico de gallo, white sauce and a fresh tortilla — Ozzy insists there’s a secret weapon.

“It’s the passion,” Ozzy said.

With the kitchen located directly behind the bar, customers are treated to a front-row seat of Ruben and Ozzy’s passion for food. The brothers decided against a traditional backroom kitchen because it would have created a divide between themselves and the customers.

The duo intuitively picks up each other’s cues and they are often able to cook without saying a word. Watching them cook, Mara said, is incredible.

“We had a customer come in and as he watched them cook, he said it was like they were dancing,” Mara said. “And that’s really what it is.”

After working together for so long, Ozzy said the secret is to go with the flow.

“I treat him like my wife,” Ozzy said. “It makes it easier if I just say, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’”

The open kitchen also lends itself to creating anything their customers request. In fact, customer inspiration led to one of the restaurant’s most popular off-menu items.

“Fried oyster tacos were not on our menu,” Ruben said. “One day, a customer came in and asked if we could do it, and now it’s one of our most popular items. We’ll do anything as long as we have the ingredients.”

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Stay Cool and Rock Out With Indoor Miniature Golf

Rather than tell his kids to find something to do this summer, Jody Erdahl actually created that something: Rock’n’Roll Mini Golf in La Quinta.

Lasers Light Up Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

Turn off the lights at Fantasy Springs Bowling Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and one of America’s oldest recreational sports literally illuminates a whole new persona - laser bowling.

McCallum Theatre Presents Palm Desert International Dance Festival

On the heels of a successful first venture, the McCallum Theatre is presenting its second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival, Nov. 6-15.

Where to Satisfy Your Fall Season Sweet Tooth in Greater Palm Springs

The calendar says fall has begun, and although the temperatures may not reflect it, restaurants in the Greater Palm Springs area have created that fall feeling with delectable desserts.

Palm Springs Weekend: Peter Frampton, Diana Ross, Cinema Diverse

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.