Joe’s Crab Shack opened its first location in New York City on 125th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard today, and with a live DJ and a large crowd, its presence was made known to Harlemites.
The day before its grand opening, Joe’s Crab Shack employees laid out a red carpet for a fundraising event with Autism Speaks. Special guests, like Council Member Robert Jackson,had a chance to preview the specialty drinks and appetizers the restaurant will offer.
“We are excited to (and) thrilled to join the community in Harlem,” Joe’s Crab Shack President Jim Mazany told the AmNews. “We have had a very positive response so far.”
That excitement showed as more than 700 people gathered days before the opening in a line that stretched down 126th Street nearly to the next block. Many were hoping to be one of the first 300 people in line to dine at Joe’s and receive a voucher for a free snow crab dinner every month for a year upon purchase of their first entree. The next 100 people received a coupon for one free crab dinner and all of those who waited in line were entered in a raffle to win free crabs for life.
Guillermo “Will” Smith, who said he had been “cracking crabs since he was three years old,” spent two nights on 125th street to hold his first place in the line.
“When I found out Joe’s Crab Shack was opening up, I said ‘I gotta come here!,’” Smith, who is 16, said. “There was no way I was letting anybody get this spot.”
Already sporting a Crab Shack t-shirt, Smith did leave his spot for a brief moment to join the Joe’s Crab Shack staff as they encouraged those who were in line (and walked by) to join in on dancing to the music provided by a DJ stationed out front of the restaurant minutes before the official opening. He was rewarded for his love for crabs by getting the chance to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony alongside Mazany, and the property manager of the Harlem location, Michael Vercillo.
The 10,000-square-foot restaurant that has employed more than 350 people will be the company’s 135th location. It is the third business to open on the newly renovated complex on 125th street that once housed a clothing store and a record store.