In 1983 — the same year that Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was the No. 1 song and “Dallas” was the most-watched TV show — Aw Shucks Oyster Bar opened its doors and began serving seafood on Lower Greenville.

To celebrate, on Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Aw and Big Shucks’ are throwing with a 30 Shuckin’ Year Party for their guests.

Thirty years ago, Bob Peterson (the man standing in the middle of the above photo) founded Aw Shucks. Now his son, Nick Peterson (the tot at the table who’s too busy playing with matchbox cars to pose for a picture) is following in his father’s footsteps as the district manager of all the Aw/Big Shucks locations.

Even though Nick and his brother Eric (the pictured youngster casting us a rueful grin) grew up against the back-drop of Aw Shucks — first entertaining themselves with matchbox cars and bowls full of maraschino cherries, then eventually working there every summer at “Peterson Boot Camp,” as they called it — Nick says he never expected to take over the family business.

“Never even really thought about it,” Nick recalls. “Starting at 16 or 17, every summer my brother and I would come work here and at Blue Goose (which Bob Peterson also founded). Aw Shucks has always been very diverse, with a family-friendly atmosphere that takes all walks of life. It’s really fun and energetic, so I always loved the place, obviously, just never thought about working in it.

“But right about the time I was finishing college my dad died. I was just out of college (with a business degree) and really no ideas as to what to do, so I thought I should at least get a sense for how he did it, for his legacy, and just fell in love with it.”

Nick started as a store manager and did a lot of different things within the company. He now works as the district manager for Aw/Big Shucks in Dallas and co-owns the Aw Shucks in Lewisville. Of course, he’s watched the area change a lot over the years, although some stuff, such as Snuffer’s across the street, has weathered the ages.

“That used to be a flower shop,” he says, pointing to Woodfire Kirby’s. “You can see it in the picture. The Granada has always been there, and that picture of James Brown has always been there, on the wall.”

Aw Shucks was the first restaurant to use the “honor system” in Dallas, meaning you order your food and they bring it to you. Then when you’re done, you tell the cashier what you had on your way out. Aw Shucks still does that today.

Some of the employees who work at Aw Shucks are the same folks Nick grew up with. “Known them, and their families, my whole life,” he says.

The 30 Shuckin’ Year Party on Sept. 30 includes complimentary slices of Key Lime Pie to everyone born in 1983 (one per person with an ID). Available for everyone, Aw Shucks is selling oysters for $0.30 each (just $3.60 per dozen), $1.30 Draft Beers, $3.30 house margaritas and each location will spin tunes from the 80’s, which will undoubtedly include “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Nick Peterson today, standing outside Aw Shucks  on Lower Greenville

Nick Peterson today, standing outside Aw Shucks on Lower Greenville.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.