Joe’s Crab Shack opening at Monmouth Mall
EATONTOWN — Seafood chain Joe’s Crab Shack opens its first restaurant at the Jersey Shore on Tuesday, the latest change at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown.
The 284-seat restaurant, located in a separate building on the ring road across from AMC Loews Monmouth Mall, is the fourth Joe’s in New Jersey. The others are located in South Plainfield, Lawrenceville and Clifton.
Its menu features crab, of course, and shellfish. “Crab’s our middle name,” said Jim Mazany, chief operating officer at Joe’s Crab Shack. With its beach theme, food is served in buckets and steampots with flavors that are reminiscent of a cook-out on the beach, he said. Staff dress in tie-dyed shirts. It also has an enclosed patio that can be opened in warmer weather.
“It is serious food that we serve, but we serve it in a fun, high-energy wave,” Mazany said.
Following the 11 a.m. ribbon cutting on Tuesday, the first 100 customers served will receive a voucher for a free Snow crab bucket every month for a year.
Joe’s Crab Shack is the fourth-largest seafood chain, with $312 million in sales in 2010, according to Technomic, a Chicago-based research firm. Other chains in the industry include Red Lobster, the largest; Bonefish Grill, which earlier this year opened a restaurant in Middletown; and McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant.
Once owned by Landry’s Restaurants Inc., Joe’s was sold to Houston, Texas-based Ignite Restaurant Group in 2006. Ignite also owns Brick House Tavern + Tap, which has a location in South Plainfield.
Joe’s has started to reinvent itself, adding new locations, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic
“It really is a nice turnaround story in terms of where they have been and where they seem to be heading,” Tristano said. “They have got a fun lively atmosphere.”
Kevin Sargent, a Tinton Falls resident, was at the restaurant on Thursday for lunch as servers trained ahead of the Tuesday grand opening. From Ohio, he has been to Joe’s before.
He liked the atmosphere at Joe’s. During the service, the restaurant’s staff broke into a celebration dance to the 1990s hit by Quad City DJ’s “C’Mon ‘N Ride It (The Train).”
“The food’s delicious, very good.” Sargent said.
Joe’s Crab Shack has opened 10 restaurants this year, including the Clifton restaurant, Mazany said. It expects to open about the same number or more in 2012.
“New Jersey has had a great history as a great place to do business and obviously a great history of success,” Mazany said. “We are looking up and down the coast of New Jersey and inland as well.’’
Its location at the Monmouth Mall “was really a good match up for what we look for in our guest base.”
Monmouth Mall has been a hub of activity this year.
In October, Boscov’s reopened after closing its store after it filed for bankruptcy in 2008, a victim of the deep recession. At the same time, Monmouth Mall completed its interior renovation, including new floors, paint and a color scheme, part of a $30 million investment, which included the purchase of the Boscov’s building.