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The Oyster Girls, a Sonoma County traveling oyster bar, is aiming to put a touch of feminine class back into the North Bay oyster business, dishing out the popular mollusks with a dose of glamour.

Everything from the company's logo — an innocent-looking '40s-style pinup girl sitting on an oyster shell — to its charming owners, sisters Aluxa and Jazmine Lalicker, has a measure of modesty the duo say is an antidote to the oft-macho culture that has come to characterize the oyster.

At least that's how the Oyster Girls see it.

"We do try to bring femininity to the oyster, but we've worked really hard to keep it classy sexy," said Aluxa Lalicker, 33, who started the business about seven years ago.

"It always has a touch of class. I think of my grandmother and how they were sexy back in that era," she said.

In just a few short years, The Oyster Girls' list of clients has grown rapidly and includes the likes of Campo Fina restaurant in Healdsburg, Iron Horse Vineyards, Lagunitas and Jackson Family Wines.

The outfit recently signed a lease for a commercial kitchen in Petaluma, at the former location of Millie's Chili Bar on Petaluma Boulevard South.

The business has been hired by established caterers to do such events as the Neiman Marcus grand opening in Walnut Creek in 2012; a benefit dinner in 2013 for President Jimmy Carter's foundation at a private home in Saratoga, where Carter spoke; and an event honoring large donors of SFMOMA hosted at Yammer's San Francisco offices, with George Lucas as the guest of honor.

Currently run out of the Petaluma home of the two sisters and their mother, Joanne Lalicker, the business is a product of an entrepreneurial spirit and romantic impulse that have largely been a way of life for the family. In its simplest terms it is finding opportunity in the things you love to do.

Aluxa, whose name is derived from the Mayan word alux — a mythical spirit similar in mischievous antics to the Irish leprechaun — was born Cancun, Mexico and grew up in Playa del Carmen back when the now trendy tourist spot was a small fishing village.

Joanne, who was born in Texas but grew up in Oklahoma, fell in love with the Caribbean in the late 1970s, after visiting the region during high school. She fell in love with a seafaring Mexican and for a few years made a life in Playa del Carmen.

They lived there until shortly after Jazmine was born and not long after the region was destroyed by Hurricane Gilbert.

After the storm, the family moved back to Oklahoma, where Aluxa Lalicker finished high school. Sonoma State brought Lalicker to the North Bay, and a job as a kayaking guide in Tomales Bay brought her to the world of oysters.

During her kayak tours, Lalicker started taking her clients to Tomales Bay oyster beds and eventually the shelled creatures became a big focus of her tours. She started shucking them for appreciative kayakers and later for friends at parties. The seeds of a business were planted.

In college, Lalicker studied urban planning and environmental studies, but she was always toying with business possibilities. Her early ideas included designing yoga mats, developing an online travel resource for Point Reyes National Seashore and trying to come with a web app that turns your smart phone into a mirror.

Cal Fire findings on 12 Northern California wildfires

Those referred to the District Attorney indicate Cal Fire determined PG&E was in violation of state code.

Redwood fire (Mendocino County): 543 structures destroyed, 9 deaths, 36,523 acres burned. The fires started in two locations when trees or tree parts fell onto PG&E power lines.

Nuns, Norrbom, Adobe, Partrick & Pythian fires (Sonoma and Napa counties): 1,355 structures destroyed; 3 deaths, 56,556 acres burned (Sonoma and Napa counties); all but Nuns fire referred to District Attorney.
• Nuns: Broken top of a tree crashed into powerlines.
• Norrbom: Tree fell onto powerlines.
• Adobe: Tree fell into PG&E powerline.
• Partrick: Oak tree fell into PG&E powerlines.
• Pythian: The fire started with a downed powerline caused after PG&E tried to re-energize the line.

Atlas fire (Napa County): 783 structures burned, 51,624 acres burned, 6 deaths; referred to the District Attorney.

Sulphur fire (Lake County): 2,207 acres, 162 structures destroyed; referred to the District Attorney. Fire ignited when a PG&E power pole failed, causing power lines and equipment to contact the ground.

Pocket fire (Sonoma County): 6 structures destroyed, 17,357 acres burned; referred to the District Attorney.

37 fire (Sonoma County): 3 structures destroyed, 1,660 acres burned (Sonoma County). PG&E distribution lines started an electrical fire.

Blue fire (Humboldt County): 20 acres burned; referred to the District Attorney. A PG&E powerline conductor separated from a connector, causing the conductor to fall to the ground and start a fire.

Cherokee fire (Butte County): 6 structures destroyed, 8,417 acres burned. Fire started when tree limbs made contact with PG&E powerlines.

_____

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

Nothing took off like the oysters.

She brought in her sister and her friends to help her shuck. The idea, in the beginning was to have a fun way for her and her friends to make some extra money.

"We were averaging literally maybe one or two events a week. Now, we average seven to ten events a week," Lalicker said.

She declined to discuss The Oyster Girl's revenues, but said the company, which was incorporated earlier this year, achieves an enviable profit margin of 50 percent. What makes such margins possible she said is the wholesale price she gets from her main supplier, the Tomales Bay Oyster Co. She said she harvests her own oysters and volunteers at the farm for many of its events.

The Oyster Girls also get some of its product from the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, the firm fighting a protracted legal battle to continue operating in Point Reyes waters designated as federal wilderness.

Jazmine Lalicker, 25, said The Oyster Girls is part of the popular "farm to table"food movement that has some of its earliest roots in the North Bay.

"I love being able to truly offer something so pure and in its raw form, without having to change anything," she said.

"It's been a pretty exciting experience, working with my sister and creating The Oyster Girls. She's chock full of ideas," she said.

Aluxa Lalicker said the name of the company was an attempt to create something that was fun and personal. She said she and her sister also wanted to highlight the feminine aspect of oysters in an industry she says is dominated by men.

The Lalickers often get dressed up for events. Clients get to pick from a wide range of costumes, with styles that range from America's vintage big band era to formal chef attire and Caribbean carnival motifs.

"They just let us know and we get to go out shopping," Aluxa Lalicker said.

Because the business is such a personal expression, the sisters said they get to do what they want.

"Every idea that we have, since we're it, we're The Oyster Girls, we can just go for it," Jazmine Lalicker said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.)

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