Tuesday, July 30 saw the official opening of the national seafood chain Joe’s Crab Shack (@joes_crab_shack, 2349 Frederick Douglass Blvd., 212-222-0445, www.joescrabshack.com) in the new behemoth building that also currently houses Party City and Blink Fitness. It is the seventh Joe’s in New York and the first in New York City.
On Monday, Joe’s held a VIP party at the Harlem location to introduce the space, culture, staff and management teams of Joe’s and to celebrate raising $1 million for Autism Speaks, a national initiative. I attended the event with colleagues and friends to see what’s cookin’.
I arrived to Joe’s to see a line of people in tents and lawn chairs. They were not there for the party. They were there to be one of the first 100 people to eat at Joe’s. As part of their opening promotion, Joe’s was giving coupons to the first 100 paying customers for one free snow crab dinner per month for a year. The first person started to line up at 4 a.m. on Monday morning. That’s commitment!
After walking the stanchioned red carpet, being greeted with big “hellos” and adorned with an Autism Speaks puzzle pin, we were ushered upstairs to the sunny, beach-themed, open-air space. A great white shark is suspended over the stairs like a chandelier as if to remind you, you are about to attack some food!
As we emerged into the main space, our tour guide told us a little more about Joe’s. Most important to note is that over 90 percent of the servers live in Harlem and are thoroughly trained in the ways of Joe’s to assure a fun and enjoyable experience.
I had barely eaten anything that day in anticipation of the victuals to be served at the event, so as soon as one of the smiling, tie-dyed T-shirt-clad servers was in my eyesight and smell-zone, I went in! And with that, our guide excused himself.
We sampled a smattering of Joe’s starters—fried clam strips, crispy calamari, clams casino, “Crazy-Good” crab dip, ceviche, shrimp cocktail and something called “Great Balls of Fire”. These are jalapeño, shrimp, crab and cream cheese balls coated in panko breadcrumbs, fried and served with ranch dressing—just in case you need to guild the lily. Clearly, these are not waist-friendly foods.
Yes, you noticed that there was no crabs served at the Joe’s Crab Shack opening—perhaps they were too messy for the social set—but the option of a table or area to sample the namesake would have been fun. However, the breakout flash mob of Joe’s servers and managers doing the Cuban Shuffle took the evening to a whole other level!
Welcome to Harlem! We look forward to you serving the community!
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.