Our Story

oyster-cage
Our ROCKSALT and BRINE restaurants reflect the best of what’s local, whether it be our grains, produce, or meats, complemented by seafood from the Carolina and Virginia coasts, including Croxton’s own oyster and clam farms. Croxton has spent decades in the best kitchens across the country and has realized that the greatest chefs and restaurants in the country are the ones that champion their local farmer and continuously work to educate their staff and customers.

Each restaurant has a menu unique to its location and feature the oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, which Travis co-owns with his cousin Ryan Croxton. The cousins are credited with rebuilding the Virginia oyster industry by using ecologically-friendly aquaculture harvesting techniques and leading a renaissance of oyster farmers in the Chesapeake Bay.

Travis Croxton – Proprietor, RockSalt

Travis headshotTravis Croxton is co-owner of Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC, an oyster farming company in Virginia. He co-owns several oyster farms throughout different regions in the Chesapeake, as well as a clam farm in Chincoteague, Virginia. Croxton’s accomplishments have garnered him recognition as an innovator in the culinary world; Food & Wine magazine recognized him with the 2005 Tastemaker’s Award. Croxton was also recognized in 2013 by Zagat as one of the “24 Restaurant-World Power Players Around the U.S.” for his work with Rappahannock, as well as another project with cocktail expert Derek Brown, the oyster bar, Eat the Rich, and the whiskey-soaked, Southern Efficiency right next door.

In 2014, Travis won the acclaimed Elby Award for Restaurateur of the Year in Richmond and was awarded as one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 under 40. Most recently, Travis was appointed to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Commonwealth Council On Bridging The Nutritional Divide.

You can also find Travis alongside Craig Rogers at the Lambs and Clams tour, making appearances at events such as the annual Charleston, Atlanta and Aspen Food + Wine Festivals.

Shane Graybeal – Executive Chef, RockSalt Charlotte

Chef Shane GraybealShane was born in the small town of Warrensville, North Carolina in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. His parents were modest, hardworking people who instilled in him the importance of work ethic, character and staying true. As a child, his father took him fishing, taught him to clean trout, and how to fry the fish in cornmeal with lard. His mother would take him out to their humble garden, which they tended with great vigor.

Shane learned early on about what it took to put food on the table. From his fond memories of food and family intertwining, Shane will tell you that “I made the connection of food with happiness, and it’s something I live to replicate everyday.”

His hard work, and love for food and hospitality has taken him to some amazing places. At 18, Shane enrolled at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC. He worked his way through school and was exposed to some of the city’s finest restaurants. After school, Shane landed a job at the prestigious Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC. He thrived in the restaurant’s fine dining environment, recreating and interpreting classic French dishes.

Shane took his first Sous Chef role at Michael’s 102 North, with Michael as his mentor. Thomas Abrahamsson then lured him to become the opening Sous Chef at Maxine’s near Richmond, Virginia.

Heeding a desire to work in a larger city, Shane traveled up I-95 to Washington DC where he worked at Firefly Restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine. While at Firefly, which is part of Kimpton Hotels, Shane had the opportunity to travel and experience the cuisine of Europe and start to really develop his own style of food.

After 5 years in DC, Shane took on a new challenge at the iconic Chicago restaurant, Bin 36, where he was the opening chef at their new location. After several successful years at Bin 36, an opportunity came from his old colleagues at Kimpton to resurrect the kitchen at Sable. He turned around the food program and focused on new southern cuisine, using bold flavors, produce from local farms and imaginative twists on classic dishes, much like Sable’s world-renowned cocktail program.

Feeling a desire “to go home,” Shane struck up a fortuitous conversation with Travis Croxton, owner of RockSalt, who was looking for a chef with native Carolina roots and the skills, experience and pedigree to push the restaurant towards national prominence. As Executive Chef, Shane is looking forward to bringing a little more soul to the Charlotte food scene while still focusing on the incredible fish program that RockSalt is known for.

Photos from Rappahannock River Oysters, Topping, VA. Courtesy of Tyler Darden Photography.