By Patty Talahongva
The Angry Crab Shack is anything but, as diners have been happily discovering since the eatery opened in October 2014 at 2808 E. Indian School Road.
The play on words gives you a peek into the ownership circle of five guys who have created a brand that offers fresh seafood and tasty barbecue in a causal atmosphere that’s fun for all ages—and where bibs are part of the dress code for everyone.
“Angry just means the food can be ordered hot and spicy,” explains Dan Sevilla, one of the owners who also adds that crabs aren’t happy. And the shack part? “… so people know it’s casual,” says Andrew Diamond, another owner.
The two and their partners (Dave Eng, Ron Lou and Jason Lopez) wanted to create a fresh seafood restaurant that was casual, family friendly and affordable. The tables are covered in butcher paper that kids can color on and everyone can eat off of when the bags of boiled lobster, crab legs, oysters and shrimp are delivered.
Sevilla and Lou are college friends. Lou’s family owned a well-known Chinese food restaurant in Chandler. He and Eng bring the expertise of keeping seafood alive in tanks. Most of the seafood arrives alive and lives in the tanks until a customer places an order. “Ron sources the food, Dave keeps it alive and Andy and I sell it,” quips Sevilla. Lopez is the culinary expert and chef in the bunch.
Diamond is the bean counter; it says so on his card. “He brought structure,” says Sevilla. Diamond clarifies. He says when he was first brought on board he asked one question: Let me look at your finances. “They brought me four boxes of receipts.”
With Diamond at the financial helm, the restaurant group has grown to five locations in two years. The Phoenix location was the second one to open. The partners have four other restaurants in the Valley and one in Tucson. They are now looking at expanding into other states.
The partners seem to have hit on a recipe for success. The menu features seafood (blue crab, clams, snow crab legs, mussels and more) at market prices, which of course vary. You also can try alligator bites or fried frogs legs. Or you can mix it up with some barbecue or even a hamburger. The average cost runs about $23—unless you go for the lobster or the king crab legs.
Ordering the bag boil is a fun process. First you select your seafood then you decide what sauce you want and then you can kick it up a notch by adding some spice. Angry Crab Shack also offers a vegetarian version with the sauce and spice. If you are brave enough to order the hottest spice, you will be rewarded with the ringing of a loud bell and the entire restaurant cheering for your courage.
Kids have their own menu featuring chicken strips, fried shrimp or cod fish with a side dish and a drink, all for $5. Po’Boys and Samiches also are on the menu and there are plenty of sides to select as well. The mac n’ cheese features smoked cheese and Cajun spices that adds a distinct flavor.
Specials include Mixed Bag Mondays, which features three seafood items plus one side for $20. Teacher Tuesday offers a barbecue platter for $5. For everyone else the price is $10, which is still a great deal. First responders such as police officers, firefighters and military receive 10 percent off all the time.
During happy hour (at the bar) you can get a shrimp cocktail with a glass of wine for $8. Other items on the $5 menu include barbecue pork siders, clam-mari basket, ACQ kettle chips, and angry wings.
Drink specials range from a $4 craft draft to $3 house wine and well drinks. Local beers are served in mason jars and wine is served in jelly jars. Why? “It’s the shack!” points out Diamond.
“I’ve been in the industry for more than 25 years, and this is the first place where they mean what they say,” says Derek Still, the general manager. “This is a place where they take care of people. You work with passion.”
Still oversees a staff of 60 people at this location. Diamond concurs, “I’ve been a part of businesses that are successful and ones that aren’t. This is the most fun!” He’s also proud to note that most of the managers started out as servers and were promoted.
The fun extends to being environmentally aware and that’s where Sevilla’s wife, Autum Perry-Sevilla, comes in. “We compost all the paper products and food waste,” she says. Dubbed the “Green Fairy” on her business card, she actually handles human resources for the company. “I’m so proud of my card,” she laughs.
Large groups can reserve the patio or space in the dining area at no charge other than food and drink. Angry Crab Shack doesn’t take reservations unless you have a party of 15 or more. Catering is restricted to the barbecue menu because seafood is so perishable.
For Sevilla, social media is a bonus. “It gives me the ability to connect with customers.” If you post or tweet, you can be sure it’s Sevilla replying to your comment or photo.
Check the Facebook page or website to see the First Responders Special planned for July. The partners will select an organization to donate a portion of their monthly proceeds.
The Angry Crab Shack is open daily at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturdays. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. See the menu and locations at www.angrycrabshack.com or call the North Central location at 602-956-3088.