By Joseph Climer

Historically, the Oxford restaurant industry – though brutal in nature – has proven to be an unlikely haven for some to carve out a groove and turn raw talent into something special. As a restaurateur, the clock never stops – from balancing budgets on a spreadsheet to throwing on an apron when the fry cook no-call no-shows – there’s the hum of a ticket printer that never stops ticking. It takes a specific strain of human beings to endure the ins and outs of life in a pressure cooker. However, Landshark owner Jared Foster quickly fits the bill.

Nearly a decade ago, Jared bought a crawfish costume and a 5-gallon boil

pot. His logic – he loved crawfish. A few weeks later, he was roadside outside Jackson and selling mudbugs by the pound. “I’d pissed on every red carpet rolled out before me,” Foster said. It seemed like his only way out at the time.

It took him some time to tweak his seasoning and water ratio, but it soon proved to be a sustainable business model. Two years into the project, he secured the down payment for a food truck. Jared became mobile, and Landshark was born. Soon, he found his way into another food truck and another. The business has continued to scale.

“We started eight years ago in a food truck,” said founder Jared Foster, who added that the business is North Mississippi’s largest live crawfish supplier. “And the cheapest. We’re the hottest seafood spot in Oxford. We have possibly the best crawfish in the country, and the customers seem to agree.”

Eight years later, Jared and his crew found their way into a brick-and-mortar location with a full menu and service bar, bringing in crowds that suggest they are here to stay. Menu offerings include crawfish, snow crab, lobster tail, catfish po’boys, and boudin egg rolls.

“Allowing our staff to take ownership has all been a part of helping build this into a true Cajun experience with the entire state’s support,” Foster said. Landshark has additional locations in Hattiesburg, Ridgeland, Pontotoc, and Johnson City, Tennessee, with two new locations that will be announced soon.

The family-run farm in Louisiana, where they source their product, has been going strong for over three decades. “Landshark has been a sustainable brand because we put the customer first,” Foster said. “Everybody has a short window of opportunity to sell crawfish, so many people feel they need to rush out and rush the mission. For us, it’s about ensuring the customer’s dollar is taken care of.”

Jared envisions deepening his involvement in the industry at large. After several years of hauling crawfish back from the farm to other restaurants, he’s researching the logistics of becoming a seafood purveyor for restaurants throughout the state. This would allow Landshark to continue its mission of higher-quality products and better prices, he explained.

A restaurant has many moving pieces. It’s a cash-flow business that operates on razor-thin margins. Executing service flow, managing overhead, marketing, etc., requires craftiness. Jared seems to have found fresh and clever ways to maneuver such hurdles while offering a product that people keep talking about—not an easy feat in a place like Oxford.

Landshark is at 2311 W. Jackson Ave., Suite 301, in Oxford. It is open Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Wednesday/Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday/Saturday/Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Some seasonal events may change hours, so it’s best to call the restaurant at 662-816-3784 or keep up with what’s new on their Facebook page.