For 50 years, The Crab Claw Restaurant, the iconic seafood restaurant in St. Michaels, MD, has drawn patrons from near and far to enjoy its premier seafood offerings.
On May 22, 2015, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m., the restaurant is holding a ’60s soiree on its dock to celebrate its 50th year milestone. The event will include live music, Crab Claw Trivia, door prizes for Crab Claw memorabilia and couples who met and married after working at the Crab Claw, roll back prices on a drink popular in 1965, and one menu item. Guests dressed in 1965 attire will receive their first drink free. There will be vintage ’65 cars in the front parking lot of the restaurant.
Tracey Jones-Wass, co-owner of The Crab Claw with her mother Sylvia Jones, states, “Everyone has a story about the Crab Claw. We hope this year as we celebrate 50 years in the business that people will share their stories with us. We have appreciated the community’s support and look forward to celebrating this important milestone with our patrons.”
The Crab Claw Restaurant was built on a hard work ethic, quality food, and friendly service. Initially, William R. “Bill” and Sylvia Jones had an oyster shucking house known as The Eastern Shore Clam Company. St. Michaels was becoming a tourist attraction with the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in 1965. The Crab Claw Restaurant opened in the Eastern Shore Clam Company building on St. Michaels Harbor in May that same year.
The first year the restaurant was open through Labor Day. The menu included catch from its own dock – steamed Miles River
Crabs, oysters, clams, crab cakes, and fried soft shell, plus steamed shrimp, beer, and wine. Known for his impeccable knowledge of seafood, Bill’s slogan for the restaurant became “If the crabs don’t kick, we don’t cook.”
Physically, the Crab Claw Restaurant has changed very little, preserving the “Crab Experience” of its beginnings.
Generations of families have worked for the restaurant, which is known for teaching area high school and college-aged students’ good work ethics. In addition, the restaurant boasts the longevity of its employees across the board. Over 80 seasonal employees are hired each year. Crab Claw romances still get attention, with several past employees meeting while working at the restaurant and later marrying and starting families of their own.
Although people have changed their eating habits, boasting more healthy eating and preferring the fine dining experience, the restaurant has stayed true to its roots and charm. The menu has evolved some to include more healthy items, included broiled, steamed, and raw seafood. Fish is now more of a staple on the menu than when the restaurant opened, including rockfish tacos and shad roe.
The restaurant is open seven days a week beginning in mid- March and closing in mid-November when the crabs stop running.
For further information, contact the restaurant at 410-745-2900 or visit thecrabclaw.com.
Fun Facts About the Crab Claw Restaurant
- Owned and operated by the same family since 1965.
- Patrons can tie up within 50 feet of their table at the restaurant and enjoy free docking while they eat.
- In the 70s and 80s, the restaurant had a boardwalk train called the “Crab Claw Express” which took patrons on a 15-minute tour of St. Michaels.
- In 1971, the restaurant had 50 catchers supplying the crabs. Hard crabs cost $.60 each. In 2015, out-of-season, crabs can cost $10 each.
- In 1971, oysters were $2/gallon. In 2015, oysters are $87/gallon.
- In 2010, Southern Living Magazine deemed the Crab Claw’s crab cake, “The Best Crab Cake in Maryland.”
- The Crab Claw has donated over $78,000 to the Friends of Hospice in Talbot County and many other local charities, including Habitat for Humanity.
- Famous Crab Claw patrons have included: Willard Scott, David Letterman, Julianne Moore, James Michener, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Liv Tyler, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Norton, Courtney Love, Neil Patrick Harris, Paula Deen, and Whoopi Goldberg (who had her birthday party at the restaurant), as well as numerous presidents, governors, senators, and other political and sports figures.
- To this day, Crab Claw Restaurant co-owner Sylvia Jones has a license plate that reads “Crab.”